National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, ADM and USDA announce US$2.6M in grant awards to help farmers plant cover crops across Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan and Minnesota

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MINNEAPOLIS , May 25, 2022 (press release) –

In partnership with ADM and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) today announced $2.6 million in grant awards to help farmers plant cover crops across Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan and Minnesota. Awarded under NFWF's Midwest Cover Crop Initiative, these five grants will support implementation of this beneficial agricultural practice on 500,000 acres.

NFWF administers the Midwest Cover Crop Initiative to support large-scale, voluntary adoption of cover crops in corn, soybean and wheat systems across the Midwest. Typically grown after harvest of cash crops, cover crops minimize bare soil, improve soil productivity, store and sequester carbon, help prevent runoff and erosion, and improve wildlife habitat associated with agricultural lands.

Farmers who implement cover-crop systems may see improvements in long-term profitability through reduced input costs and higher yields. By accelerating the adoption of this practice, the grants announced today will help enhance soil health, reduce atmospheric greenhouse gases, improve water resources, and support wildlife while providing economic benefits to participating farmers.

"Cover crops are a win-win for farmers and conservation," said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. "We are proud to partner with ADM and NRCS to accelerate the adoption of a regenerative agriculture practice that generates so many benefits for our water, wildlife, the climate, farming communities and farmers' bottom lines."

Grant recipients include American Farmland Trust, Ducks Unlimited, Kansas Association of Conservation Districts, Minnesota Soil Health Coalition, and Practical Farmers of Iowa. These organizations will provide farmers with technical assistance to help navigate the various agronomic and social factors that can pose barriers to cover crop adoption. They will work closely with farmers to plan and implement approaches that make practical and economic sense for their individual operations.

The five grant recipients will also help farmers enroll in public and private programs designed to defray costs and minimize financial risk associated with practice adoption. Grant recipients will work to increase participation in established Farm Bill cost-share programs managed by NRCS, such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. In addition, they will coordinate enrollment in a new private incentive program, under which ADM will commit $20 million over the next four years in support of participating farmers. By providing an opportunity to stack these new private payments with more-traditional public financial assistance, the Midwest Cover Crop Initiative increases the financial resources available to farmers and further incentivizes broad practice adoption.

"Sustainability is a pillar of ADM's growth strategy, and a foundation of our purpose as a company," said Greg Morris, president of ADM's Ag Services & Oilseeds business. "That's why we committed last year to working across the entire food and ag value chain to significantly reduce our Scope 3 emissions, and why we're scaling up our work to promote regenerative agricultural practices. Farmers have always been stewards of the land, and we're proud to partner with them by committing $20 million to directly support the use of cover crops to improve soil health, reduce runoff and - most importantly - lower the carbon intensity of agriculture and food production."

Altogether, the five grant recipient organizations will develop voluntary agreements with an estimated 1,800 farmers. Analyses of environmental and economic outcomes at the farm level will help these farmers assess the benefits associated with cover crops and make informed decisions about future implementation. In addition, aggregating results across farms will help identify key findings that can be shared with the broader agricultural community.

"We are pleased to be a partner with NFWF to help accelerate the adoption of cover crops on private working lands in the Midwest," said NRCS Chief Terry Cosby. "These investments not only improve soil health, address climate change, and build resilience, but also provide economic benefits and opportunities for local producers and communities."

A complete list of the grants announced today through the Midwest Conservation Initiative is available here (https://www.nfwf.org/sites/default/files/2022-05/midwest-cover-crop-gs-2022.pdf).

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