Sysco and Cargill have announced a new project in partnership with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) that will invest a total of $5 million to support ranchers in the Southern Great Plains with the implementation of sustainable grazing practices.
The Southern Great Plains, which touches Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas, and Colorado, is home to 30% of beef production in the US yet it faces severe challenges around extreme weather that have been amplified by climate change.
The program is targeting 1 million acres and could sequester as much as 360,000 tons of carbon dioxide annually once implemented. It will also focus on habitat preservation in the region’s many migration corridors.
Livestock are often listed as one of the biggest detriments to improving food production’s impact on the planet. But some stakeholders are pointing out that livestock could be a key tool for sequestering carbon particularly in areas where crop cultivation is impossible.
Through the Sysco and Cargill’s project, NFWF will manage a competitive grant program that will provide funding for selected conservation groups, ranching collaboratives/associations, and agencies at the state and local level to engage with ranchers. The partners claim that the project will touch at a scale not seen before in the region.
Some of the practices that the grants will support include rotational grazing, improvements to infrastructure, control of invasive vegetation, or a combination of interventions appropriate for the landowner, wildlife, soil type, and climate.
A few other efforts are being made around livestock and promoting carbon-sequestering grazing techniques. In 2019, Montana partnered with the Western Sustainability Exchange in a program to pay ranchers for adopting climate-friendly grazing practices. Grazing support software startup PastureMap also recently merged with Soil Value Exchange to help graziers take advantage of new opportunities in carbon credit generation.