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Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative, one of the largest dairy co-ops in the country, and Farmers for Sustainable Food, a nonprofit organization of food system partners, today celebrated a milestone in an up to $50 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for a broad climate-smart initiative. Following months of negotiating and planning, the partners announced today Edge has officially signed an agreement with USDA for its new climate-smart grant.
Under this grant, Edge will spearhead a multi-partner project ― Farmer-led Climate Smart Commodities Initiative: Building Success from the Ground Up ― aimed at expanding climate-smart markets and establishing dairy and beet sugar as climate-smart commodities. The co-op applied for the grant last year through the USDA’s new Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities program. 14 partners — including FSF — will join dozens of supporting companies, organizations, government agencies and others to participate in the program. The grant was one of 70 announced last fall.
The initiative will build off a first-of-its-kind Framework for Farm-Level Sustainability Projects, which helps farmers determine what climate-smart production practices are most effective for their farms and provides tools to document the environmental and financial effects. The framework, developed in partnership between Edge and FSF, is currently being applied in projects involving farmers and others in the dairy food supply chain across the Upper Midwest.
Brody Stapel, president of Edge, made the following statement:
“USDA’s investment into building a stronger food supply chain has opened doors for farmers to continue adapting to the modern marketplace, one continually demanding sustainably produced food. Edge and its partners have spent over seven years building a nationally recognized model for high-impact, tailored agricultural sustainability projects, and we have proven its success in a network of farmer-led conservation groups. This grant will allow us to greatly expand our efforts, connecting farmers with tools and resources to implement even more climate-smart practices and verify their impact. We thank USDA for their commitment to our nation’s farmers and look forward to working with them — and all our other partners in this initiative — to build more sustainable farms.”