Expanding STAR Across the West

Climate Smart Commodities Grant

Expanding the STAR Program Across Colorado and The West

In September 2022, the Colorado Department of Agriculture was selected for funding by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) through the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities Project.

The $25 million grant is an historic investment in Colorado agriculture that will advance farmer- and rancher-led soil and climate solutions. 

The STAR (Saving Tomorrow’s Agricultural Resources) program was built to serve everyone from the smallest producer to the largest, across all production types. This commitment to soil health and voluntary, incentive-based stewardship practices has been a key priority for the State of Colorado. STAR was shaped from the ground up by farmers, ranchers, conservation districts, and other partners who helped CDA tailor it to work for different crops, range, and different ways of farming and ranching across the state. 

This investment for Colorado’s farmers, ranchers, and agricultural communities means a significant influx of funds to help producers absorb the financial risks of adopting new cropping and rangeland practices that advance soil health and climate resilience.

CDA Secures $25M for Soil Health Program. Soil health principles: Soil Armor, minimize soil disturbance, plant diversity, continual live plant & root, livestock integration. More at ag.colorado.gov

 

Read the summary document of the Climate Smart Commodities grant. 

CDA's Climate-Smart Commodities (CSC) Grant Proposal

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New Applicants

If you are a conservation district or eligible entity that does not currently administer the Colorado STAR Plus program, please fill out the STAR Plus Grant Application for NEW Applicants

As an applicant, you should familiarize yourself with the requirements of the STAR Plus program by attending a STAR webinar and reviewing the CDA soil health website.

This includes responsibilities such as:

  • Completing producer consultations
  • Completing STAR Field Forms with participants
  • Assisting in determining producer eligibility (e.g., FSA eligibility)
  • Soil sampling
  • Installing soil moisture probes

New conservation districts and eligible entities may work with up to 10 producers, but please consider these requirements and your capacity to meet them when estimating the number of producers you will work with.

How to apply: 

Please click the button below and download the linked document. Please edit the document on your computer and when finalized, submit your application to cda_soild@state.co.us

Existing STAR Plus Administrators

If you are a conservation district or eligible entity that currently administers the Colorado STAR Plus program, please fill out the STAR Plus Grant Application for EXISTING Applicants.

All existing STAR Plus conservation districts and eligible entities in good standing are entitled to work with up to 10 total STAR Plus participants. The application below will be used to rank and select which existing STAR Plus CDs and EEs will receive additional participants beyond this total (10). 

How to apply: 

Please click the button below and download the linked document. Please edit the document on your computer and when finalized, submit your application to cda_soild@state.co.us

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What the Climate Smart Commodities grant does

The grant funding will be used to more than double participation in the STAR program across Colorado, expand research on the benefits of regenerative agriculture across seven Intermountain West states (NM, WY, UT, ID MT, WA, CO), scale the model nationwide, and continue building markets for producers deploying climate-smart agricultural practices. 

The grant will fund the expansion of soil health practices on more than 56,000 acres across Colorado. Healthy soils are key to combating the effects of climate change in agricultural landscapes. Improving soil health can increase carbon sequestration, reduce agricultural runoff, decrease erosion, and support more productive, nutritious crops. Conservation districts and eligible entities act as a local expert and grant administrator, and are a key part of the STAR Plus Program.

Each field enrolled in STAR Plus will do a soil test in Year 1 and Year 3, and soil moisture probes will be installed. Data from these tests and probes will be presented to the producer at the end of the grant period so they can make informed decisions about next steps. 
 

Research and outcomes of the grant

This grant funds soil health research across the Intermountain West. In partnership with land grant universities across the West, observational data will be collected and analyzed from a network of 35 research fields across seven states.

Research fields will receive additional soil samples, soil moisture probes and weather stations; COMET-Farm and COMET-Planner analysis; soil organic matter fractions (to determine the stability of soil organic carbon), lab-based MIR spectroscopy for soil organic matter chemical characterization, and a suite of soil health analyses. 

The grant will also fund eight economic case studies to understand the annualized cost of greenhouse gas reduction benefits, GHG benefit per dollar expended, and impacts on yields, water availability, and other on-farm variables. These case studies will be shared with producers and state policymakers. Though there will not be an economic analysis for each farmer, the breadth of the case studies will help stakeholders understand the impact of climate-smart agriculture. 
 

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Contact the Soil Health Program

305 Interlocken Pkwy
Broomfield, CO 80021
cda_soil@state.co.us

John Miller, Soil Health Program Coordinator (970) 985-2510
Rakel Sanchez, Grants Administrator (720) 812-3357