How does the Climate Smart Grant (CARAT) work?

Your application is for pre-qualification in the CARAT Project conducted by Penn State and partners with funding from Partnerships for Climate Commodities, an initiative of the USDA. CARAT will provide funding to identify and implement climate-smart practices that will benefit your farm operations. The participating farms will be selected through a three-step process: pre-qualification, development of climate-smart plans for all pre-qualified farms, and selection of implementation farms (nearly 70 farms over five years).

Approximately 150 dairy farms will be approved through the pre-qualification process to work with a technical service provider to develop climate-smart plans for their operations. The technical service provider assigned to help your farm identify climate-smart practices will work with you to develop an implementation plan fitting to your operation. Those implementation plans will be presented to the CARAT Review Committee to be considered as one of the farms receiving funding toward implementation. Pre-qualification does not guarantee your farm will be approved as one of the final CARAT participants. You will be notified of acceptance into the program upon approval by the committee.

What are the funding levels per farm?

View the following chart for the funding level breakdown:

Will our farm be monitored by Penn State for data research?

A total of 12 farms will be identified to participate in Penn State’s study and designated as “model farms” on which monitoring equipment will be used to collect data directly to use in Climate-Smart research associated with this project. If your farm is identified as one of these farms, you will be asked to participate in this direct research and would receive an additional $5,000 stipend beyond the implementation funding in exchange for your participation in the direct research component of this project. However, if your farm is identified, you can choose not to participate in the direct research. You will still receive the implementation funding but will not receive the stipend. All farms selected to receive implementation funding will be required to provide feedback regarding the strategies they put in place and how those strategies affected their overall operations. That feedback will be used to contribute indirectly to Penn State’s data research.

How much is our cost share, or in other words, what portion of the project is the farmer responsible for?

Farms are not required to provide a cost share as part of this program. However, the climate-smart strategies identified within the implementation plan could likely exceed the amount of funding provided through this program’s grant. Any costs incurred beyond the amount allocated through the grant program will be the responsibility of the individual farm operation to pay in full. Upon approval into the program, the farm will be provided with the commitment level allocated to their farm through the program. Commitment levels will align with the chart above and will be based on total cow numbers.

What is the definition of cow numbers that determines the size of farm designation?

Cow numbers is defined as the total number of milking and dry mature cows in the herd, not including any replacement animals that haven’t calved yet.

Will permitting costs be covered by the grant? Will permitting applications be expedited?

Permitting costs can be included as part of the costs reimbursed through the program. However, any permits must be directly associated with strategies identified through the implementation plan presented to the CARAT review committee. Costs that are incurred prior to being accepted into the program cannot be reimbursed. This grant program exists separate from any state or local municipality approving permits and cannot influence the time it takes for any permits to be approved by that municipality.

Must I use the technical service provider listed on CDE’s website or may I use another provider?

No, you are not required to use a technical service provider listed on CDE’s website. However, any technical service providers requested by farms must be vetted through the CARAT Review Committee and will be required to follow the guidelines provided for completion of the implementation plan.

How quickly will I receive the funds after I submit the reimbursement request?

Due to the nature of this project and the size of reimbursements that will be issued, the Center will need to receive the funds before issuing any reimbursements. Therefore, farmers should expect up to six weeks in between submitting reimbursement requests and receiving payment for those reimbursements.

Who is funding this program? Who will I receive my reimbursement check from?

This project is being funded by the USDA through a Climate Smart grant awarded to The Pennsylvania State University. All reimbursements for farms will come through the Center for Dairy Excellence as a subcontractor to the project. Payments to farmers will be made from the Center for Dairy Excellence.

What are the Reimbursement Requirements to receive any funding through this project?

  • Any work submitted to be reimbursed must be directly related to the strategies outlined in the implementation plan presented on behalf of the farmer to the CARAT Review Committee. Costs covered can include permitting, design, construction, excavation, product purchases, and contractor-related costs, but must directly correlate with the strategies outlined in the plan.
  • Planning discussion notes must be submitted with expenses for the expenses to be reimbursed
  • Expenses except for technical services work will be reimbursed to producer only.
  • Producer agrees to complete a survey at the end of the grant funding period.
  • Meeting notes, invoices/expenses to be sent to: Center for Dairy Excellence, Attn: Melissa Anderson, 1140 Mountain View Rd., Shermans Dale, PA 17090.
  • For questions on reimbursement, please contact Melissa Anderson at 717-636-0779 or email: