The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities program has announced a $20 million investment in Elevated Foods, providing an accelerant for achieving its vision to elevate the nation’s food system. The grant will enable Elevated Foods to fast-track its efforts to restore and regenerate agricultural lands while producing more nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables.
“Elevated Foods was founded to increase the health of our planet and its people and this project does exactly that,” said founder and CEO Steve Brazeel. “We’re overjoyed to expand our work in supporting our nation’s fruit and vegetable farmers in producing and marketing healthy, safe, affordable and sustainable climate-smart crops.”
Elevated joins a portfolio of projects supported by a $2.8 billion investment from USDA to propel the expansion of markets for climate-smart commodities. Climate-smart practices include cover cropping, water management, low-till/no-till and nutrient management, among others, with a goal of conserving and protecting lands, biodiversity and natural resources.
The announcement of funding was celebrated in person by Robert Bonnie, USDA's undersecretary for farm production and conservation programs and Carlos Suarez, state conservationist for USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in California.
The event highlighted the project as a flagship effort of the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities program. Over the next five years, Elevated Foods will support fruit and vegetable producers in implementing climate-smart production practices; measuring, monitoring and verifying the carbon and greenhouse gas (GHG) benefits associated with the implementation of these practices; and developing markets to promote fruit and vegetable crops as climate-smart commodities, expanding access to healthy and nutritious foods to a broad spectrum of customers and underserved communities.
Elevated Foods will execute this project in partnership with a number of organizations including: the California Department of Food and Agriculture; Solutions for Urban Ag; World Wildlife Fund; University of Arizona; International Fresh Produce Association; AgLaunch; Soil Health Academy; Understanding Ag; and the California Association of Food Banks, amongst others.
“Our food system is at a critical inflection point,” said Brazeel. “Consumers and commercial purchasers are increasingly interested in knowing where their food comes from and how it was produced. Farmers are eager to meet this demand. However, existing production systems and distribution channels don’t afford access to bring these products to market profitably. Elevated Foods supports farmers, making healthy and responsibly sourced foods accessible to all.”
The project will engage hundreds of farms and several hundred thousand acres of working land with climate-smart production practices to provide more than a half million metric tons of carbon sequestration over the life of this project.