USDA Under Secretary addresses climate-smart group

Robert Bonnie, USDA Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation, gave opening remarks at a meeting of the Minnesota Working Group for Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities held Oct. 24 at the Minnesota Farmers Union office.
“When we developed Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities and rolled it out, it was a bit like throwing a party and not knowing if anybody would show up,” Bonnie said. “I’m not sure if anybody showed up as much as Minnesota showed up.”

Of the 141 projects funded through the climate-smart commodities program, 25 have Minnesota connections, he said.

Minnesota Farmers Union first convened stakeholders involved in USDA’s Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities (PCSC) grant-funded projects in May. The conversation continued Oct. 24 with an update on farmer recruitment, data management best practices and reporting data to USDA.

“Farmers are on the front lines of the climate crisis and it’s vital that farmers take advantage of opportunities like those offered by the climate-smart commodities grants,” said MFU Vice President Anne Schwagerl, who farms near Browns Valley. “We have made changes to our crop rotation and added additional crops because we want to be proactive as the weather continues to change. We have dealt with extreme drought, extreme wetness and extreme heat in the course of our decade-long farming career. Bringing all these organizations together in one group is a way to help farmers select the climate-smart program that works best for them. We look forward to continuing this partnership.”