Climate-smart Agriculture that is profitable, Regenerative, Actionable, and Trustworthy (CARAT)

CARAT is a pilot project led by Penn State that will build trusted partnerships among scientists, dairy producers, industry organizations, climate smart markets, and government agencies with the central aim of bringing economic value to producers along the supply chain.


The focus of the project is on dairy production in Pennsylvania, a sector with tremendous potential to reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs) by suppressing the production or emission of methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) and by storing carbon (C) while maintaining and increasing productivity. The project will involve 69 dairy producers across three cohorts — each representative of the various scales and types of dairies in Pennsylvania. CARAT will cover approximately 32,500 acres and more than 28,000 dairy cows.  The cascading impact through extension and education activities and initiatives rooted in CARAT will expand the reach of the project to dairy producers and consumers outside the initial coverage area.

Pennsylvania’s small- and medium-sized dairy farms are situated within a confluence of economic, environmental, cultural, and geographic factors that are ideal for testing the implementation of practices and will underpin an emerging market for climate-smart commodities. The long-term goal is for CARAT to serve as a testbed for further expansion of a validated, transparent, and trusted climate-smart market for diverse dairy farms throughout the nation under a common framework. 

Penn State’s partnerships with producer associations and the private sector allow for the development of a streamlined and producer-friendly implementation program that builds on a reputation of trust and experience in communicating with diverse stakeholders.

CARAT builds on nearly 30 years of research on climate-smart practices and stakeholder engagement at Penn State and leverages the networks that have been established through the College of Agricultural Sciences’ Institute for Sustainable Agricultural, Food, and Environmental Science (SAFES), the Agriculture and Environment Center (AEC), and Penn State Extension.

Dairy producers interested in enrolling in the CARAT project can apply to the Center for Dairy Excellence.

CARAT’s partners — Center for Dairy Excellence, the Professional Dairy Managers of Pennsylvania, and Red Barn Consulting — expand and strengthen those networks across a multitude of constituencies.