Provides technical assistance and direct payments to producers.
Cotton and wool producers in the states of California, Georgia, Indiana, Montana, North Carolina, New York, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Wyoming are invited to apply to the new program “Climate Beneficial Fiber: Building New, Accessible, and Equitable Market Opportunities for Climate-Smart Wool and Cotton.”
With funding from USDA’s Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities Program, the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) and its partners — Carbon Cycle Institute, Fibershed, New York Textile Lab, Seed2Shirt, and the Colorado State University Department of Soil and Crop Sciences — are ready to provide technical assistance and $18 million in direct payments to producers, enabling them to choose and adopt climate-smart conservation practices that fit with their farming operations and goals.
Participating farms and ranches will work with experts to create a tailored plan that identifies opportunities to bring more carbon into soils and vegetation and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Participants will then receive incentive payments for adopting practices that — besides being “climate-smart” — have benefits such as increasing the water-holding capacity of soils, reducing the need for expensive synthetic fertilizers, and boosting overall farm productivity.
The program provides technical assistance and planning at no cost to producers and pays 75 to 90 percent of the average cost of implementing recommended practices. Over the next five years, the program hopes to sign up 100 agricultural operations and impact two million acres of land.
At least 40 percent of all program benefits will go to small and underserved farmers, and a special initiative is encouraging Black farmers in southern states to grow climate-smart cotton. “We’re making it a priority to reach and include folks who have not traditionally benefited from this type of program,” said NCAT Executive Director Fred Bahnson. “We strongly encourage cotton and wool producers of all sizes to apply.”
Building on the Climate Beneficial™ Verification program already developed by Fibershed, the program is also working with well-known clothing brands and textile manufacturers to expand markets for climate-smart wool and cotton. Growing concerns about textile-derived microplastics, land-use impacts, “fast fashion,” and human rights have prompted an industry-wide shift to seek natural fiber sources with verified benefits to land and climate.
“Our long-term goal is to create a self-sustaining consumer market and regional manufacturing systems that reward cotton and wool producers with price premiums for drawing down carbon from the atmosphere,” said Fibershed Executive Director Rebecca Burgess. “That’s good for rural communities as well as the planet.”
Producers interested in learning more can visit the Climate Beneficial Fiber Partnership website (fiberpartnership.ncat.org) and fill out an interest form.