One year ago, we reported that Minneapolis-based Cargill made a commitment to advance regenerative agriculture practices across 10 million acres of land in North America by 2030, recognizing that it not only improves soil health but can also help revitalize rural economies by opening new revenue streams for farmers.
Now, On September 16, 2021, they revealed how, to achieve that goal, Cargill has been enrolling farmers in Cargill RegenConnect™, a new regenerative agriculture program that pays farmers for improved soil health and positive environmental outcomes, including payment per metric ton of carbon sequestered.
The new program connects farmers to the growing carbon marketplace and will help scale the voluntary adoption of regenerative agriculture practices.
“Agriculture has a unique opportunity to utilize voluntary carbon markets and regenerative ag to address the global climate challenge and better the economic prospects for farmers, who really are the heroes of our food system,” said Ben Fargher, vice president of sustainability in Cargill’s North American agricultural supply chain.
“Changes made at the roots of our supply chains will deliver the greatest impact in reducing emissions, delivering higher yields, improving water quality, sequestering carbon and building the resilience of our soils for the next generation. We are actively working hand-in-hand with farmers to lead the way, supporting them with tools, resources – and most importantly, market access – to make the shift to regenerative agriculture,” he explained.
Farmers enrolled in Cargill RegenConnect™ will implement regenerative agriculture practices of their choosing beginning this fall into the next planting season. Practices that will qualify include cover crops and reduced- or no-tillage.
Cargill has partnered with leading carbon measurement firm Regrow to make it easy for farmers to Measure, Report and Verify (MRV) carbon outcomes using in-field data, remote sensing and crop and soil health modeling. The Regrow MRV platform ensures easy enrollment, secure data collection and provides farmers with transparent measurement and verification options.
“Growers have told us they are looking for sustainability programs that offer simplicity, transparency and flexibility to suit their specific operation. We’ve taken this feedback and designed our program, RegenConnect, to address these needs and it has been very well received,” said Fargher.
Farmers Find Profitability in Soil, Carbon Markets
Cargill says it’s helping farmers increase their productivity and profitability by promoting sustainable, innovative agricultural practices, providing inclusive market access and building resilient agricultural communities.
The RegenConnect™ program furthers this role by connecting farmers to Cargill’s downstream customers, who are counting on agricultural supply chains to achieve their carbon reduction goals.
“Farmers are working hard right now to navigate through incredibly disruptive global market conditions,” added Fargher. “Profitability and positive environmental impacts can work together. We do not want to place a still heavier burden on their operations. Anything we do together to reduce emissions should also improve their businesses.”
In a study of 100 farmers across nine states conducted by The Soil Health Institute and supported by Cargill, researchers found that soil health management systems increased incomes for 85 percent of farmers growing corn and 88 percent of farmers growing soybeans. The average income for corn growers increased by $52 per acre and $45 per acre for soybeans. Additionally, farmers reported reduced average costs to grow corn by $24 per acre and soybeans by $17 per acre.
Cargill has been advancing sustainable agriculture for more than a decade, investing in partnerships to enable farmer profitability through regenerative soil health practices. In the U.S., Cargill has also supported ecosystem service markets like the Soil and Water Outcomes Fund and Ecosystem Services Market Consortium, which provide new opportunities for farmers to get paid for sustainable agriculture practices.
In addition, Cargill is connecting farmers with FarmRaise, a financial technology platform that efficiently connects farmers with capital to optimize their financial and ecological performance. Their newly launched Eqip application reduces the lengthy application down to a simple 15-minute process.
Photo courtesy of Cargill Ag.