Climate-Smart Commodities

Strengthening Grassroots Leadership & Capacity to Scale Climate-Smart Systems and Facilitate Historically Underserved Producers' Access to Markets

NACD recognizes the role that farmers, ranchers, and forest stewards can play to reduce and sequester greenhouse gas emissions contributing to climate change. 

The National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) is proud to be a recipient of a USDA Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities grant. Through this program, NACD will competitively select and fund a series of locally led pilot projects across the U.S. and territories. We anticipate reaching 1,400 producers, getting conservation on over 430,000 acres, and reducing or sequestering over 1.5 million metric tons of CO2e. 

Request for Climate-Smart Proposals

NACD is seeking projects that foster private-public partnerships, scale implementation of climate-smart practices, advance Measurement, Monitoring, Reporting, and Verification (MMRV), and support producer participation in resulting markets. Projects will be competitively selected and should: 

  1. Leverage the locally led conservation delivery system to provide the education and technical assistance needed to transition to climate-smart production systems. 
  2. Develop economic opportunities within communities and build local capacity that can sustain projects and partnerships beyond the life of the grant. 
  3. Seek to mitigate historical and systemic barriers within the broader food system to increase the participation of underserved producers and communities. 
  4. Provide external match, leverage, or additional financial incentives to producers, more holistically de-risking their transition to climate-smart systems and supporting their long-term economic viability. 

NACD’s total subaward budget is nearly $80 million. Approximately $42 million is dedicated to producer incentives to implement conservation practices. The remaining funds will be awarded for project implementation. 

Project Selection Process

NACD will select projects via a multi-phase process. This process is intended to provide sufficient time for partnership development, project scoping, and budgeting.

Phase 1: Call for concept papers and rough orders of magnitude (Completed October 13, 2023)

The NACD Team was impressed by the creativity, thoughtfulness, and effort that went into each and every one of the papers submitted in response to our Climate Smart Commodities call for concepts this fall. With over 100 submissions and $420M+ in projects, we are excited about the impact this grant program will have on environmental outcomes, locally led conservation, and producers!  

While concept papers were not formally evaluated, NACD assessed and categorized each paper. We have circulated concept papers to our members and are beginning to collect expressions of interest. We have also been assessing the proposed practice deviations, conservation field trials, and demonstrations. We are still in the process of working with USDA on these items.  

If you would like feedback on your concept paper and have not yet been in touch with the Conservation Programs Team, please email your NACD Region Representative or climate[at] to set up some time. We have assessed each paper, but may not have had the opportunity to reach out just yet. We are glad to provide feedback that can help strengthen your approach.  

Phase 2: Partner Matchmaking & Request for Proposals (October 2023 – January 2024)

Over the weeks ahead, NACD will connect proposals with state and territory associations of conservation districts, conservation districts, tribes, and other partners to facilitate partnership-building and project development. The formal Request for Proposals (RFP) for project grants can be accessed here. This includes submission instructions, the application template, evaluation criteria, the budget template, and guidance for developing budget narratives. A link to submit proposals online will be provided in February 2024. A separate RFP for Planning & Capacity grants will be released in January 2024.

In mid-January, NACD will set up a series of virtual, informational meetings between potential partners, conservation districts, and their respective associations. Each will be one hour and targeted to the conservation districts and/or states impacted by your proposed project. This is an opportunity to present your concept, answer questions, and connect with districts to refine project scope, roles and responsibilities, and budgets. These sessions will be recorded and distributed to those who could not attend live.  

Please email climate[at] if you are interested in hosting an informational session. In your email, please reference the organization that submitted the original concept paper and provide a few days/times that are convenient for you during the weeks of January 8, 15, and 22.  

View this informational webinar hosted by NACD on January 11, 2024 for more information about the RFP and answers to applicants’ questions.

Phase 3: Final Proposals (due March 15, 2024) 

Proposals for project grants are due on March 15, 2024. NACD is currently in the process of implementing a new grants management system. We will release additional instructions for proposal submissions, including a link to the portal, in February 2024.  The lead organization shall be responsible for submitting the proposal and managing selected projects. More information will be posted on this webpage as available.

Funding Pools

At this time, NACD anticipates three funding pools. The size of each pool is subject to change based on overall demand and the impact of the proposed projects. 

Pool A: Up to $5.75 million per project 

Pool B: Up to $2.5 million per project 

Pool C: Up to $750,000 per project (limited to recipients of Planning & Capacity Grants)*

*NACD recognizes that administrative capacity can be a major barrier for organizations with limited resources. Organizations interested in planning and capacity grants do not need to submit formal concept papers; however, NACD requests that such organizations submit an expression of interest. The formal process for submitting applications for Planning & Capacity grants will be described in the formal RFP released in Fall 2023.  

If you have additional questions, you can contact the NACD team at climate[at]

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