NACD Targets Locally Led Climate-Smart Conservation Projects with $90 Million USDA Grant


August 8, 2023

Candice Abinanti

NACD Targets Locally-Led Climate-Smart Conservation Projects with $90 Million USDA Grant


Washington, D.C. – The National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) announced a call for concept papers today as it launches the first phase of a $90 million program funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities.

NACD’s program will advance grassroots efforts to ensure producers and local communities are prepared to meet growing demand for climate-smart commodity markets. Through its network of 3,000 conservation districts and partners, NACD anticipates reaching more than 1,400 producers, over half of which are expected to be small and underserved producers. With nearly half of the program budget dedicated to producer incentives and payments, it aims to implement climate-smart practices on over 430,000 acres and reduce or sequester over 1.5 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent.

The first phase of the program fosters private-public partnerships via a call for concept papers and a unique matchmaking process. Through the call for concept papers, NACD is seeking innovative ideas that scale implementation of climate-smart practices, advance greenhouse gas measurement, monitoring, reporting, and verification (MMRV), or support producer participation in resulting markets. NACD will then support project development through a matchmaking process. This will align concepts, as well as link potential partners with local conservation districts and other organizations. The formal request for proposals is anticipated in Fall 2023.

“Nature-based solutions are one of the most powerful tools we have to mitigate climate change,” said NACD Chief Executive Officer Jeremy Peters. “With over 60% of land in the U.S. being privately owned, we rely on America’s farmers, ranchers, and forest owners to conserve our natural resources. They are our most important partners.”

“NACD’s selection as a partner for Climate-Smart Commodities is a testament to the enduring legacy of our nation’s voluntary, locally-led conservation delivery system. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to building climate resilience. Conservation districts provide producers with the technical assistance and financial incentives that make sense for their operation,” said NACD President Kim LaFleur. “NACD will be creating a diverse portfolio of projects that impact a wide range of agricultural operations and producers. We also look forward to developing projects and partnerships that advance innovative approaches to MMRV and expand markets for climate-smart commodities.”

To implement this project, NACD is partnering with the Indian Nations Conservation Alliance (INCA), Rural Coalition, the Kansas Black Farmers Association, the Rural Advancement Fund of the National Sharecroppers Fund, Ecosystem Services Market Consortium (ESMC), Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, HabiTerre, and the Cornell University Atkinson Center for Sustainability. NACD is also pleased to develop and strengthen additional partnerships through this competitive project development and selection phase.

Climate-smart practices are not new to the locally-led conservation district system. For decades, conservation districts nationwide have helped producers implement practices such as no-till farming, cover crops, and sustainable forestry on working lands. These practices reduce greenhouse gas emissions, enhance carbon sequestration, improve soil health, protect ecosystems, and increase resilience to extreme weather events. They benefit both producers and our environment through improved water quality and quantity, wildlife habitat, crop yields, and farm income, supporting the production of climate-smart commodities.

To learn more about this opportunity and submit a concept paper, visit NACD’s website.


About the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD)

The National Association of Conservation Districts is the nonprofit organization that represents the nearly 3,000 conservation districts across the United States, their state and territory associations, and the 17,000 individuals who serve on their governing boards. For more than 75 years, local conservation districts have worked with cooperating landowners and managers of private working lands to help them plan and apply effective conservation practices. For more information about NACD, visit

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