Cover photo for SmartAgGro Pilot Program Provides Technical and Builds Partnership Markets to America’s Climate-Smart Farmers, Ranchers, & Forest Owners to Strengthen U.S. Rural and Agricultural Communities

SmartAgGro Pilot Program Provides Technical and Builds Partnership Markets to America’s Climate-Smart Farmers, Ranchers, & Forest Owners to Strengthen U.S. Rural and Agricultural Communities

Vanguard (OTE) Consortium,
U.S. Department of Agriculture

This project will implement a scalable climate-smart marketing strategy to assist underserved farmers in Mississippi Congressional District 2 to adopt climate-smart practices and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in production of beef and other products. This project aims to apply cover crops, low till/no till, nutrient management, buffers, feed management, grazing plans and manure management.  The project plans to provide marketing training to participating farmers to help them develop marketing strategies and retrain higher farm-to-consumer margins by identifying both wholesale and retail markets and effective promotion and advertising.

Partners plan to work with Historical Black Colleges and Universities to reach their networks of underserved growers. This project intends to utilize a Teralytic FMS probe equipped to collect farm management practice data and help reduce uncertainty in modeling greenhouse gas emissions from the field and potential carbon sequestration and streamline the verification process for premium carbon credits which may be traded on a marketplace and serve as an additional source of income for producers.

The probe would be used to support the monitoring and modeling for soil organic carbon (SOC) percentage and nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions, opening the door to use this technology in support of carbon and ecosystem services markets. The project plans to train farmers how to recognize when strong demand exists; how to develop strategies to supply products or services to meet that demand; and how to enter the local market on a small scale and retain higher farm-to-consumer margins by identifying both wholesale and retail markets, building relationships with buyers, packaging, and labeling products properly, negotiating and delivering products to buyers in compliance with the opportunity and marketing contract, meeting market specifications, possessing logistics and transportation, securing decent prices, and effective promotion and advertising.

The Smart-Way Incentive Program (SWIP) is the innovative Financial Assistance Plan for Team Vanguard. SWIP prioritizes support to small and underserved farmers by ensuring access to   fair and equitable funding.  Team Vanguard is partnering with Historical Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs) and their networks of undeserved growers to deploy a soil analytic technology (Teralytic farm management system (FMS) on farms in Mississippi.


Farms must meet the USDA definition of "Historically Underserved.

In order to be eligible for the Smart-Way Incentive Program, an underserved producer must:

  1. Establish Farm Records with the Farm Service Agency (have farm, tract, and field numbers in place);

  2. Complete an AD-2047 (Customer Data Worksheet to facilitate the collection of customer data for Business Partner Records);

  3. Certify highly erodible land conservation (HEL) and wetland conservation (WC) compliance via Form AD-1026, Highly Erodible Land Conservation (HELC) and Wetland Conservation (WC) Certification; and

  4. Certify that they are not a foreign person or entity.

Farm, tract, and field numbers are required for the underserved producer, and provided to Vanguard (OTE) Consortium, to report Climate–Smart practice implementation to USDA, as well as to certify and maintain HELC/WC compliance.

This requirement will require that some underserved producers that do not already have these numbers, like perennial crop growers or forestland owners, establish these records with USDA.

In order to demonstrate HELC/WC compliance, underserved producers will need to request a copy of their subsidiary print from their field office and provide this documentation to the grant awardee as proof of compliance.

The underserved producer will then provide this documentation to Team Vanguard as proof of compliance. Also, a current-year subsidiary print will be required for each crop year that the producer receives a payment.

HELC/WC eligibility information is provided under the AD-1026 and Conservation Compliance sections of the subsidiary. Underserved producers will need to have control of the land for the term of their beneficiary contract.

After completing these requirements, underserved producers must be registered with the USDA and operate within Mississippi Congressional District 2 or surrounding state areas. Each prospective underserved producer must complete a Current and Pending Funds Forms to mitigate duplicate funding receipt.


To participate in the SWIP, producers must complete an online Learning Plan consisting of several courses and develop a Conservation Plan with technical assistance from Team Vanguard. The producer enrollment period begins in the second month of each performance period, except for the first year when the enrollment period starts in the first month. A Funding Selection Board will review funding applications, and awardees will be required to sign an agreement affirming their compliance with the terms of the program. Non-selects may request feedback and recommendations for improvement.

The incentives offered through the SWIP include a combination of materials and a cash stipend valued at $26,500.00. These incentives support soil health and business operations management.

Application Instructions

To express interest, sumbit to the interest form listed below.


Financial Instrument


Maximum Award Amount


Total Program Funding


Updated December 21, 2023

Image Credit: Pixabay

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