College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences; Public Service and Agriculture; Top Story

USDA investing $70M in Clemson, South Carolina State Climate-Smart Commodities project


Largest single award from a federal agency in the history of both universities

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced an initial funding pool of the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities, including a $70 million investment into a Clemson-South Carolina State partnership. The award will provide incentives to South Carolina farmers, enabling them to implement selected climate-smart production practices.

Clemson and South Carolina State universities, the two land-grant institutions of South Carolina, have established strategic partnerships with 27 entities, and the project will focus on representative agricultural production sectors of South Carolina and the Southeast, including vegetables, peanuts, beef cattle and forest products, and will ensure meaningful involvement of small and underserved producers.

Dignitaries from South Carolina State University, Clemson University, the state of South Carolina and U.S. Congress stand in front of a banner with Clemson and S.C. State logos.
Representatives from South Carolina, U.S. Congress and the USDA announced a $70 million investment into Clemson and South Carolina State universities to support Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities.

In celebrating the gift announcement, House Majority Whip and South Carolina Congressman Rep. James E. Clyburn recalled his late wife Emily’s childhood on a Berkeley County farm.

“I know what small farming families can mean going forward. This is the kind of program that will assist them in making a living,” Rep. Clyburn said, adding that more than 80 percent of the class of 1961 left the state to pursue career opportunities. He is a graduate of South Carolina State University.

“They didn’t leave on adventures,” he said. “They left looking for opportunity. We, with this program, can do a lot to reverse that trend so these families can find a future here.”

Rep. Clyburn added that his work and efforts to bring these dollars to South Carolina are focused on making opportunity accessible and affordable for all.

“We’re appreciative of the USDA’s investment into this project, which will both help farmers across the state of South Carolina and measure the benefits associated with climate-smart practices,” said Paula Agudelo, the project lead and associate dean for research and Experiment Station director in the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences.

There is a strong and growing interest in the private sector and among consumers for food that is grown in a climate-friendly way.”

Tom Vilsack, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture

“Through these initial selections for the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities, USDA is delivering on our promise to build and expand these market opportunities for American agriculture and be global leaders in climate-smart agricultural production,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. “This effort will increase the competitive advantage of U.S. agriculture both domestically and internationally, build wealth that stays in rural communities and support a diverse range of producers and operation types.”

  • Project includes 27 partners across the state of South Carolina.
  • Largest single award from a federal agency in both Clemson and South Carolina State history.
  • Rep. James E. Clyburn, of the South Carolina delegation, played a significant role.
  • One of only three projects awarded over $70M led by universities (Virginia Tech, South Dakota State).
  • One of only two projects dedicated to a single state (South Carolina, California).

USDA is committed to supporting a diverse range of farmers, ranchers and private forest landowners through Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities. This effort will expand markets for America’s climate-smart commodities, leverage the greenhouse gas benefits of climate-smart commodity production, and provide direct, meaningful benefits to production agriculture, including for small and underserved producers.

“We are grateful for the USDA’s investment of $70 million to the Climate-Smart Commodities Project,” Clemson University President Jim Clements said. “As a land-grant institution, our mission and values have always been connected to the development of agriculture and the economic growth of South Carolina. Through this incredible investment by the USDA and Clemson’s partnership with S.C. State, we have the opportunity for our talented farmers, researchers and partners here in South Carolina to lead the field of climate-smart agriculture locally, nationally and globally.”

We have the opportunity for our talented farmers, researchers and partners here in South Carolina to lead the field of climate-smart agriculture locally, nationally and globally.

Jim Clements, President, Clemson University

“The USDA’s historic investment recognizes the value both S.C. State and Clemson bring to the people of South Carolina and the active roles we play in their well-being and community development,” South Carolina State President Alexander Conyers said. “I thank Congressman Clyburn and other members of South Carolina’s Congressional delegation for their support in this endeavor, the teams at Clemson Extension and Research and South Carolina State 1890 Research and Extension for their hard work in developing the project, and the USDA for trusting us with this crucial initiative. This USDA partnership will ensure that South Carolina’s farmers will continue to thrive in the modern world with sustainable practices that benefit both them and the environment.”

USDA is investing up to $2.8 billion in 70 selected projects under the first Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities funding pool, which includes proposals seeking funds ranging from $5 million to $100 million.

Major Partners: Clemson University, S.C. State, American Peanut Council, Aster Global Environmental Solutions, Barry Graden, CU Wood Utilization Institute, Forest Association of S.C., Help for Landowners, Mixon Seeds, Palmetto Agribusiness Council, Petrichor Global, S.C. Cattleman’s Association, S.C. Peanut Board, S.C. Southern SARE, S.C. Timber Producers Association, S.C. Forage and Grazing Lands Coalition, S.C. Farmers Markets, S.C. Specialty Crop Association, The Long Leaf Alliance, Tidewater Lumber and Moulding, U.S. Endowment for Forests and Communities, WP Rawl, Center for Heirs Property Preservation, Gullah Geechee Community, S.C. Black Farmer’s Association, S.C. New and Beginning Farmers Program, Farmer Veteran Coalition of S.C., Women in Agriculture, Women Owning Woodlands

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