The Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts, in partnership with the Oklahoma Conservation Commission, the Oklahoma Black Historical Research Project, the Choctaw Nation Conservation District, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Conservation District, and the Oklahoma Department of Forestry was awarded a $4.9 million grant. Secretary Thomas Vilsack of the United States Department of Agriculture made the announcement on Monday December 12th.
The “Building Climate Success by Empowering Humans to Care for our Natural Resources” project is a five year collaborative effort to assist Oklahoma farmers and ranchers with adopting climate smart practices by providing financial and technical assistance. The project focuses on enrolling a minimum of 10,000 acres and 125 agriculture producers in the program.
“This project is unique in that it will be farmer/rancher led through the creation of an advisory committee that mimics the locally led process used by conservation districts for over 80 years,” said Sarah Blaney, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts, “We are also particularly proud to note that we will be investing $3.6 million in direct financial assistance to producers. 75% of all funding will be reserved for historically underserved and/or socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.”
“The Building Climate Success by Empowering Humans to Care for our Natural Resources project is the next step in our collaborative effort with the conservation districts of Oklahoma to provide assistance to small farmers/ranchers on conservation,” said Willard Tillman, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Black Historical Research Project.
The outreach and education components will be provided by OACD, OBHRPI, while the lead technical partner will be the Oklahoma Conservation Commission.
“Oklahoma was one of the first states in the nation to launch a voluntary, locally led carbon sequestration project. This effort is the continuation of our most recent work to provide farmers and ranchers with the knowledge they need about soil and water conservation to make the best decisions for the resiliency of their operations. Our team of experts has worked closely with the partners of this project in the past and we are excited to continue our partnership through this newest program,” said Trey Lam, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Conservation Commission.
USDA is investing $3.1 billion in 141 pilot project across the nation to expand and create new markets for American farmers/ranchers to grow commodities in a climate smart way. The Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities by USDA will reach 60,000 farms and affect 25 million acres of working land.