At the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in November 2021, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack underscored the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s support for President Biden’s whole-of-government approach to combating climate change and supporting rural livelihoods.

At meetings and events throughout the conference, Secretary Vilsack highlighted USDA partnerships and initiatives that put agriculture, forestry and rural communities at the heart of global solutions to the climate crisis.

These include:

Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate

This joint initiative led by the United States and the United Arab Emirates seeks to address the climate crisis by significantly increasing and accelerating investment in, and support for, climate-smart agriculture and food systems innovation.

“USDA is proud to be one of the U.S. government agencies spearheading this global effort to accelerate investment in innovative, science-based solutions to increase food security and help agriculture and food systems mitigate and adapt to climate change. By catalyzing greater public and private investment and cross-sectoral partnerships, AIM for Climate will lead to rapid and transformative climate action across the world,” said Secretary Vilsack.

Already, nearly 80 countries and non-government partners have joined in support and AIM for Climate has garnered $4 billion in increased investment in climate-smart agriculture and food systems innovation, with the U.S. committing $1 billion over the next five years.

USDA Climate Smart Agriculture and Forestry Partnership Initiative

USDA’s Climate Smart Agriculture and Forestry Partnership Initiative, first announced during U.N. Climate Week in September, will connect agricultural producers who are implementing climate-smart practices with retailers, companies and consumers who are demanding low-carbon agricultural commodities.

“We’re positioning U.S. farmers, ranchers and forest landowners as leaders in addressing climate change, while at the same time creating new market opportunities for them through pilot projects that invest in science, monitoring and verification to measure the benefits of climate-smart production practices,” said Secretary Vilsack. “Unlocking these markets will be key to tapping into the incentives needed to adopt climate-smart practices on the ground.”

Pathways to Dairy Net Zero

The newly launched Pathways to Dairy Net Zero, which USDA supports, is designed to help accelerate climate action in the global dairy sector. The initiative will bring together organizations throughout the dairy supply chain and dairy farms of every size and type around the world to collectively achieve net zero emissions in the next 30 years.

“Livestock, including dairy, can provide critical climate solutions. Sustainably managed livestock systems play an important role globally in food and nutrition security, livelihoods and nutrient cycling and carbon storage. Increasing the rate of adoption of feed management, manure management and digesters will be key to reducing greenhouse gas emissions including methane,” said Secretary Vilsack.