Smart Stewards

The U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol was honored that its climate smart project was funded under USDA’s Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities program.

What is this environmental initiative?

gary adams, ncc
Gary Adams, NCC

The Biden-Harris Administration, via USDA, is investing up to $2.8 billion in 70 selected pilot projects under the first pool of the agency’s Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities program. Projects from the second funding pool will be announced later this year. Ultimately, USDA’s anticipated investment will triple to more than $3 billion in pilots designed to create market opportunities for American commodities produced using climate-smart production practices.

These initial projects will expand markets for climate-smart commodities, leverage the greenhouse gas benefits of climate-smart commodity production and provide direct, meaningful benefits to production agriculture. Applicants submitted more than 450 project proposals in this first funding pool, and the strength of the projects identified led USDA to increase its investment in this opportunity from the initial $1 billion announced earlier this year. A complete list of the projects approved in the first funding pool is at

Who is carrying out the cotton project?

Expected to be carried out in all 17 Cotton Belt states, the U.S. Climate Smart Cotton Program will be led by the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol®. This industry voluntary sustainability initiative launched in 2020 is enlisting American cotton producers who will commit to providing sustainably grown cotton that not only will meet the needs of brands/retailers in the fashion and textile industries but ultimately protect and preserve our planet.

The Climate Smart Cotton Program, one of the 14 top funded projects selected by USDA, will be a collaborative effort with Cotton Incorporated and the NCC’s export promotion arm, Cotton Council International; the Soil Health Institute; the Soil and Water Outcomes Fund; Alabama A&M University; North Carolina A&T University; Texas A&M University’s AgriLife Research; and Agricenter International in Memphis. Target Corporation also is supporting the project through cost-share funding. 

How can this new endeavor benefit the industry?

The $90 million of funding allocated to the U.S. Climate Smart Cotton Program is a major investment that will provide technical and financial assistance to more than 1,000 U.S. cotton producers with the ultimate benefit of building markets for climate-smart cotton. The pilot project is an important step in providing the necessary resources needed for these producers to learn, grow and explore new opportunities that will improve their environmental footprint.

Our industry looks forward to working with USDA on a comprehensive plan. Basically, though, the program will 1) further enhance U.S. cotton’s voluntary environmental stewardship efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, soil loss and water and energy use, while increasing land efficiency and soil carbon and 2) advance adoption of climate-smart practices on more than 1 million acres, producing millions of bales of climate-smart cotton over five years, and demonstrating major carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) reductions and millions of dollars of economic benefits to producers. 

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