Fibershed and Partners Receive $30 Million to Expand Climate Beneficial Wool, Cotton Production

Fibershed is excited to announce that, along with incredible partners, it has been awarded a Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities grant through the USDA’s historic investment in expanding climate-smart agriculture. The lead partner on this grant is the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT).

NCAT and its five Climate Beneficial™ Fiber project partners; Carbon Cycle Institute, Colorado State University Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, Fibershed, Seed2Shirt, and New York Textile Lab, will receive up to $30 million to support the expansion of climate-smart wool and cotton production on 135 farms and ranches spread across 2.1 million acres. The project builds on the existing Climate Beneficial fiber program, which has a track record of growing America’s ability to produce climate-smart fiber, regenerate our soils, and expand economic opportunities for wool and cotton growers.

“NCAT has a long, trusted history of supporting farmers and ranchers who want to produce sustainably-made products that not only are part of the climate solution, but also strengthen local and regional businesses that buy, make, and sell the products that power America,” said NCAT Executive Director Steve Thompson. “This investment in climate-smart ag will have a tremendous impact across some of this country’s most important sectors.”

Textile and apparel production accounts for up to 10 percent of global carbon emissions, and the industry is moving to meet market demand for improved climate impact across supply chains. Growing concerns about textile-derived microplastics, land-use impacts, and human rights have also prompted an industry-wide shift to seek natural fiber sources with verified benefits to land and climate.

“We are elated for all our partners and the benefit this award will have for the soil systems that provide us clothing and food. This was a very competitive process, and we want to thank the USDA for the honor of being able to scale a body of work that has largely been, to date, held up by farming, ranching, university, and technical assistance providers who have put countless hours of effort into emergent work,” said Fibershed Founder and Executive Director Rebecca Burgess. “Climate Beneficial Wool growers took the first risk with us in 2015 and now Climate Beneficial cotton growers are putting themselves out to trial new ways of doing things for the health of the soil. This grant allows us to build out the markets in the ways that we need to, to keep rural communities strong, farmers farming, and ranchers ranching in a way that puts carbon back where it belongs.”

The project expands the existing Climate Beneficial fiber program, an established, market-proven system for sequestering carbon, regenerating soil health and resilience, improving social equity, and bolstering America’s ability to produce fiber. The 20-year greenhouse gas impact of practices implemented on a share of the participating farms during the grant period is projected to be a reduction of at least three million metric tons of CO2. Other benefits will include reduced application of synthetic fertilizers, improved soil health, and increased soil organic matter, water holding capacity, and enhanced resilience to a changing climate. A newly created, open-source, Carbon Farm Planning and Verification Platform will streamline climate-smart agriculture (CSA) planning and verification for producers, verifiers, and supply-chain stakeholders alike. The project aims to meet the equity goals of the Justice40 Initiative and will prioritize engagement with traditionally underserved producers.

“We are humbled and appreciative to be working alongside all our partners in this grant award. Most importantly, we look forward to this unprecedented opportunity this grant opens for Black cotton-growing families,” said Founder and CEO of Seed2Shirt Tameka Peoples. “Given the historic impact cotton has had on the African American community in the US we are happy to see the matched level of commitment by our partners and USDA to ensuring Black cotton farmers are a part of this important work to heal the land and heal farm families and communities, through climate smart agriculture practices. Our team at Seed2shirt views this as another step in our work towards the equitable value chain of cotton production we are working diligently every day to create.”