USDA announces $145M from Investing in America agenda to help landowners access climate markets

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced March 15 that the USDA Forest Service is investing nearly $145 million from President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act—the largest climate investment in history—to connect forest landowners with emerging climate markets as part of the Investing in America agenda.

USDA’s Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment, Dr. Homer Wilkes, made the announcement at the Rural Life Conference at the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff (UAPB), which is receiving nearly $3.2 million thanks to funding from today’s announcement.

“The Biden-Harris Administration understands that private landowners are key in the fight for climate resilience and forest health,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “These investments announced today will expand access to markets that were previously out-of-reach, allowing underserved and small-acreage forest landowners to address climate change, while also supporting rural economies and maintaining land ownership for future generations.”

Forests are powerful tools in the fight against climate change, and emerging private-sector climate markets create economic incentives to keep forests healthy and productive through reforestation, improved forest management and other sustainable practices. These markets can allow outside investment to reach private landowners for long-term land management. Despite these opportunities, factors including high acreage requirements and prohibitive start-up costs have caused many small-acreage and underserved private forest owners to be left behind.

$116 million from the funds being announced is for 20 Forest Landowner Support projects to provide equitable access to these emerging markets. Many of the awardees represent or will support underserved landowners located in or providing benefits to disadvantaged communities.

In Arkansas, the Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation is being awarded nearly $1.5 million to partner with UAPB to provide landowners in Arkansas with education and technical assistance to address heirs’ property issues and forestry-focused technical assistance. The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities will also receive more than $1.7 million to help UAPB expand this assistance to landowners into new counties while supporting better tracking of efforts to assist families with retaining land and accessing climate markets.

This action also advances President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative, which sets the goal that 40% of the overall benefits of certain federal climate, clean energy, and other investments flow to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized by underinvestment and overburdened by pollution, including tribes, rural areas, and urban communities. These investments also support the President’s America the Beautiful initiative which is supporting voluntary, locally led conservation efforts across the country.

An additional $29 million is available to states and territories to help them develop technical assistance programs of their own that connect underserved landowners to incentives, programs and markets.

Additional proposals for projects up to $2 million are still being accepted. More information is available at

The Forest Service also recently published a notice of funding opportunity for at least $20 million for Tribes and Alaska Native corporations and villages to better access climate markets. More information on that opportunity is also available at

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