Natzke dave
Editor / Progressive Dairy

Several dairy organizations have been named recipients of USDA funding under the 2023 Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), which supports targeted projects that incentivize reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Overall, 81 projects were awarded more than $1 billion under the 2023 RCPP, administered by the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

According to the program website, once the NRCS selects projects and executes RCPP agreements with a lead partner, agricultural producers may participate in an RCPP project in one of two ways. First, producers may engage with project partners and delegate a partner to act as their representative in working with the NRCS. Second, producers seeking to carry out conservation activities consistent with a RCPP project in the project’s geographic area can apply directly to the NRCS.

Dairy organization projects receiving funds include:

  • Dairy Farmers of America: DFA’s “Climate-Smart Dairies Partnership” will help dairy farmers reduce GHG emissions with a focus on using enhanced feed additives, tracking progress in methane reduction and diversifying farm revenue by supporting the sale of carbon credits to dairy processors within the dairy value chain. The initial project will include up to 50 dairy operations (up to 140,000 head of cattle) in selected DFA regions. Funding request: $28.9 million
  • California Dairies Inc. (CDI): The “Absolute Enteric Methane Reductions in California Dairies” project will help dairy producers reduce GHG emissions through innovative feed additives. The CDI market accounts for 9% of U.S. on-farm milk supply and aims to reduce the GHG footprint by 35%. Funding request: $21.4 million
  • Northwest Dairy Association/Darigold: The “Absolute Enteric Methane Reductions in Washington State Dairies” project is a partnership between Northwest Dairy Association/Darigold and AgSpire Inc. to help farmers reduce GHG emissions in the Pacific Northwest milkshed using innovative feed additives. Funding request: $16.5 million
  • Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association (MDVA): The “Mid-Atlantic Dairy Farmers Producing Tangible Results Through Climate Smart Solutions” project will help educate and engage farmers in Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Virginia on conservation practices that can yield reduced GHG emissions, improved water quality, soil health and farm efficiency. Funding request: $10 million
  • Tillamook County Creamery Association: The “Oregon Dairy Climate and Water Quality Partnership” will help producers scale up adoption of manure management conservation practices to improve water quality in impaired watersheds, as well as reduce methane emissions. The project is targeting 22 or more producers representing 10,000 cows in Clatsop and Tillamook counties, Oregon. Funding request: $4 million
  • Agropur: The “Agropur Dairy Producers Best Management Practices” project will incentivize the implementation of practices on farms across the central U.S., led by South Dakota. Agropur and Nestlé will also provide financial incentives and technical assistance, and partners SEC and Athian will track and report environmental outcome data. Funding request: $9.8 million
  • Stonyfield Organic/Lactalis U.S.: The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Stonyfield/Lactalis are partnering on the “Vermont Dairy Farms Working for Water, Wildlife, Climate, Food and Farmers” project. It is designed to help organic and pasture-based dairy farms accelerate adoption of conservation practices that reduce water quality and climate footprints, while also bolstering economic sustainability. The project will facilitate shared learning through events on demonstration farms and build a network of trained technical assistance providers. Funding request: $10 million
  • Newtrient LLC: Newtrient will lead three projects that aim to increase on-farm adoption of feed and manure management practices to help reduce GHG emissions: 
    • The “Methane Avoidance on Dairy Farms in Michigan Milk Producers Association Region” project is in partnership with Michigan Milk Producers Association. Funding request: $6.2 million 
    • The “Accelerating Methane Emissions Reductions in Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana” project will help dairy farms in those three states, involving members of Foremost Farms USA. Funding request: $9 million 
    • Finally, the “Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions on Idaho Dairy Farms” project partners with the Idaho dairy producers. This project seeks to enroll 10 producers and 12,000 cows. Funding request: $3.1 million