Leveraging Alternative Funding Mechanisms

Companies who are looking to launch projects that will help them achieve scope 3 targets must ask many questions right out of the gate: What types of interventions should we focus on?  What region do we start in first?  Who are the right partners?  How do we quantify the outcomes?  And finally – Who is going to pay for this? 

Certainly, alignment of upstream and downstream groups who share scope 3 emissions is a powerful tool for helping to spread out the cost of on the ground implementation of projects. But due to recent funding allocations from the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has emerged as another strong partner who can help to bring funds to the table to assist with farm and ranch level practice implementation.  

The USDA has been a long-time proponent of conservation-based practices on farms and ranches around the country and has provided funding through a multitude of programs. Although most of these programs receive funding regularly through Farm Bill reauthorizations, additional funding was included in the IRA in August of 2022. The IRA appropriated approximately $19.5 billion in new funds for agriculture conservation efforts and – more than 25% of those funds were allocated to the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), through which Alternative Funding Arrangement (AFA) cooperative agreements will help support place-based, farm-level interventions that can advance progress towards scope 3 targets.   

RCPP is not the only mechanism that can be deployed for launching an on-the-ground project. Additional programs include: 

> Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) On Farm Trials on both the national and state level 

> Conservation Implementation Strategy (CIS) funding pools in certain states, and  

> RCPP Classic, which operates differently than the RCPP AFA listed above. 

Your company’s goals, measurement and verification standards, budgets, and capacity are some of the items that should be considered when choosing a path forward in any of these funding opportunities.   

Over the past three years, AgSpire has been involved with the design and submission for projects that have helped our partners leverage more than $250 million dollars of funding to support voluntary, incentive-based sustainability projects on farms and ranches throughout the country. Contact us to learn more about these programs and how to incorporate them into on-farm programs.

About the Authors

VP, Business Development

As a Vice President of Business Development at AgSpire, a company he co-founded, Jared draws on his 25 years of on-the-ground experience to drive practical and natural solutions within agriculture.

Jared a farmer and rancher from Eastern South Dakota, with a diversified crop and livestock operation that focuses on cow calf production. His expertise has been further honed through his background in livestock genetics, seed sales, and business development. Jared has a degree in Animal Science from South Dakota State University and China Agricultural University in Beijing.

Technical Advisor, Regenerative Agriculture Systems

Austin grew up helping on the family century farm and now operates that farm with his uncle raising hogs, corn, and soybeans. Austin has seen the effects of incorporating conservation practices on his own farm and uses those experiences to help others incorporate practices on their operations. Prior to joining AgSpire, Austin worked as a Sustainability Agronomist working with producers across the country helping bring value to their operations through sustainable practices.

Austin holds a bachelor’s degree in Agronomy from Iowa State University. He is also a Certified Crop Advisor (CCA).

AgSpire Launches The SustainAg Network

AgSpire unveiled our latest initiative – The SustainAg Network – which connects farmers and ranchers who are interested in conservation, sustainability, and regenerative practices with the programs and market opportunities that incentivize and reward those positive practices.

“As the implementing partner on multiple USDA Climate-Smart Commodity Grants and other grants, and with clients leading the way in launching on-the-ground sustainability projects, AgSpire is uniquely positioned to bring opportunities to producers and partner with them to deliver meaningful results for their operations and the environment,” said AgSpire CEO, Aline DeLucia.

AgSpire offers holistic, end-to-end sustainability services, to drive real progress on the land through implementation of regenerative agriculture practices. With this formalized network of producers, we will be able to accelerate adoption of practices, matching interested farmers and ranchers with opportunities that advance sustainability goals for our partners.

Enabling On-the-Ground Impact

“The producers we’ve met with are eager to invest in their land, improve their natural resources, and implement new and better management practices. The programs offered within The SustainAg Network help producers do just that – giving them the resources and technical assistance needed to succeed,” said Ryan Eichler, Director of Producer Programs at AgSpire.

In his capacity at AgSpire, Ryan is responsible for growing the reach of the network. He kicked off this effort last week at the 100th annual meeting of the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association, meeting with ranchers around the region. With our soft launch, more than 50 farmers and ranchers in the Northern Great Plains have already indicated their interest to join The SustainAg Network. Our team of advisors will work with those producers to learn more about their operations, providing guidance on the programs they could qualify for and that would be most beneficial on the ground.

Realizing Real Outcomes

Our initial programs are heavily focused on grazing systems, forage, specialty oilseeds, and climate-smart corn in the Great Plains and Midwest, and are expected to impact over four-million acres over the next five years. Our commitment to thoughtful program design, MMRV, and successful on-the-ground implementation results in measurable and claimable environmental outcomes, including captured and stored carbon, improved water usage and quality, enhanced biodiversity, and healthier soils.

“With the interest that The SustainAg Network has garnered through this initial launch, we are well on our way toward meeting our first-year enrollment targets for our program offerings – with many more producers looking for additional opportunities and programs to participate in,” Ryan continued.

To learn more about The SustainAg Network, our services, and how to partner with our network:

Roots + Ruminants: New Income Sources for Farmers

Roots + Ruminants Podcast hosts Jared Knock and Justin Fruechte chat with guest Vivian Georgalas about upcoming new public and private programs that may be available for farmers to boost their income.

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