The first commercially produced product funded by USDA’s $3 billion Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities program, which aims to expand market opportunities for climate-smart commodities, is now available to U.S. consumers. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack visited a rice mill in Wisconsin for the launch of the new climate-smart rice, which promises to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 95% and cut water use by up to a third.

The “Climate-Friendly Rice” project is spearheaded by AgriCapture, a USA Rice Enterprise Partner. They received $7.5 million in USDA funding, enabling them to incentivize farmers to adopt climate-smart farming practices and pioneer a process for verifying their compliance with the “AgriCapture Climate-Friendly” rice cultivation standard. The process also tracks all post-harvest activities, such as transportation and packaging, to ensure the rice’s identity (and sustainability) is preserved throughout the supply chain.

USA Rice President & CEO Peter Bachmann expressed excitement at AgriCapture’s project making it to market so quickly. “We’re both proud and unsurprised that U.S.-grown rice was the first to the finish line out of all of the commodities involved in the Climate Smart grants across the country,” he said.

Jim Whitaker, a fifth-generation farmer from McGehee, Arkansas, a leader within USA Rice, and a strategic advisor for AgriCapture, told the launch event attendees that “the Climate Smart grants are probably going to be the single greatest tool to move the U.S. rice industry into the next era of sustainability and conservation.”

Secretary Vilsack agreed that Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities represents a tremendous opportunity that will benefit American agriculture more broadly, saying, “It’s an opportunity for us to create a different narrative about American agriculture. You get a benefit environmentally, you get a benefit economically, and you also get the opportunity to create an image of American agriculture that is innovative and committed to sustainability.”

Photo by Spice