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New Program to Support Native American Farmers With Climate-Smart Grazing



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Media Contact Whitney McFerron, Farm Journal Foundation wmcferron@farmjournalfoundation.org

New Program to Support Native American Farmers With Climate-Smart Grazing TULSA, OKLA. (NOV. 6, 2023) – Farm Journal Foundation and the Intertribal Agriculture Council (IAC) are launching a new program to support climate-smart grazing practices among Native American cattle farmers and ranchers. The program, which will work in partnership with Ecosystem Services Market Consortium (ESMC) and the Yield Lab Institute, will offer a combination of direct incentive payments, technical assistance, and education to producers who adopt certain conservation practices on their grazing lands. It will also better enable Native American cattle producers to participate in carbon and branded commodity markets and create pathways to join U.S. Department of Agriculture conservation programs. This new program, developed through support from the USDA’s Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities initiative, officially launched today at IAC’s Eastern Oklahoma and Southern Plains Regional Summit. “We are at a critical moment with pressing climate issues that not only impact each of us globally but have meaningful consequences for the original land stewards of this country,” said Kari Jo Lawrence, Chief Executive Officer of IAC. “Our partnership with Farm Journal Foundation not only furthers IAC’s mission-driven work with Tribes and Tribal producers nationwide, it offers climate-smart benefits with increased opportunities for economic growth in Indian Country.” Enrollment is now open for this three-year project, which will provide approximately $1 million in direct funding to producers to enable them to implement one or more designated climate-smart conservation practices. The program will work with Native American producers in three states – Florida, Montana, and Oklahoma – whose primary source of business income comes from beef cattle farming. Both small-scale and large-scale producers are encouraged to apply. The program will incentivize the adoption or expansion of a variety of practices, including adopting prescribed grazing, establishing fencing and watering facilities, planting native or perennial seeds, pasture and hay planting, andother work. In addition, producers who join the program will have access to in-person, location-based technical assistance for beef grazing and production, classroom-based learning events, online training, and web-based resources such as educational video content.


“We are excited to launch this new program that will put Tribal producers at the forefront of climate-smart agriculture,” said Tricia Beal, Chief Executive Officer of Farm Journal Foundation. “Native American producers, including both small-scale and large-scale farmers, are fierce stewards of the land, and this work will recognize the benefits of traditional Tribal grazing and increase access to conservation incentives to expand the use of sustainable practices.”


Historically, Native American producers have faced barriers when trying to access USDA programs due in large part to the complex relationship between the U.S. federal government, Tribal nations, and individual Native American farmers and ranchers. In some cases, this has inhibited the development of conservation infrastructure and economic growth for Tribal Nations. Approximately 75 percent of farms managed by American Indians and Alaska Natives specialize in livestock production, often excluding them from programs prioritizing crop-side incentives.


In addition, this new program will enable Native American producers to get credit for their conservation practices by creating pathways to connect with carbon markets. ESMC will provide support to validate farmers’ greenhouse gas emission reductions, soil carbon sequestration, and other environmental benefits generated from this project.


Senior Project Manager Jake Deutmeyer, who is leading ESMC’s participation, noted, “This program is an exciting opportunity for ESMC to expand into areas beyond traditional row-crop systems to showcase the beneficial impact that Native American livestock systems have on landscapes across the country. We can document the improved outcomes in our science-based, standards-based Eco-Harvest program and monetize the outcomes to benefit these producers. The opportunity to participate in this program also ensures that Eco-Harvest is inclusive to as many types of producers as possible – especially those that have been traditionally left out of agricultural market programs.”


The goal of this project is to create lasting benefits both for Native American agricultural livelihoods, as well as the land and environment. To help ensure long-term impact, the Yield Lab Institute will map the propensity for adopting climate-smart farming practices within Native American communities, creating an analysis tool that can be used to determine where conservation efforts can be expanded in the future.


“We are extremely excited to launch this important project for livestock farmers, particularly those in Native American tribes and communities,” said Brandon Day, Chief Operating Officer of the Yield Lab Institute. “The deliverables, the mapping analysis and tool, we hope will serve as a resource for Native American livestock producers to measure, validate, and monetize the value that they create. As a global agtech think tank, we will deploy our methodology and technology portfolio to do just that.”


 

About Farm Journal Foundation


Farm Journal Foundation is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that works across the agricultural spectrum – engaging farmers, policymakers, students, industry, and consumers – to educate about agriculture’s role in global food security and advocate for positive changes to our food system. The organization focuses on four key issues: global food and nutrition security, agricultural research and innovation, rural development, and sustainability and conservation. To learn more, visit www.farmjournalfoundation.org.


About the Intertribal Agriculture Council


The Intertribal Agriculture Council (IAC) was founded in 1987 to pursue and promote the conservation, development, and use of our agricultural resources for the betterment of our people. IAC has grown to prominence in Indian Country and among the federal government agencies and the agricultural field with which it works on behalf of individual Indian producers and Tribal enterprises. IAC believes the harmonies of human, soil, water, air, vegetation, and wildlife that collectively make up the American Indian agriculture community, influence our emotional and spiritual well-being.



About Ecosystem Services Market Consortium


Ecosystem Services Market Consortium (ESMC) is a non-profit public-private partnership that compensates farmers and ranchers who improve the environment through their agricultural practices. Our voluntary market program, Eco-Harvest, is an accredited end-to-end digitized solution to decarbonize agriculture that helps corporates meet their natural resource needs through standards-based, reportable outcomes. The program incentivizes, quantifies, and verifies (through independent third-party experts) carbon, greenhouse gas and water outcomes annually, paying farmers and ranchers from the sale of Scope 3 outcomes (credits) to corporates. www.ecosystemservicesmarket.org.


About the Yield Lab Institute


The Yield Lab Institute is the non-profit arm of the Yield Lab, a global federation of funds that invest in early stage agtech startups and innovations. The Yield Lab Institute is an agtech think tank focused on supporting, advancing global agtech startups, entrepreneurs, and ecosystems. The Institute's initiatives include open innovation challenges (the Sustainable Agtech Challenge), ecosystems assessments (e.g. Rosario, Argentina, Piracicaba, Brazil and the policy assessment from the Sustainable Agtech Challenge) and technical studies (e.g. St. Louis soilless ag white paper). The Institute publishes Agtech Action, a weekly newsletter of agtech news and current events.

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