On November 7, 2023, McCain Foods USA was awarded $6.9 million in funding through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) to help potato farmers switch to regenerative agriculture.
Under their Improving Soil Health in Potato Supply Chains project, McCain Foods USA and its partners, Campbell Soup Company and the Soil Health Institute (SHI), will help potato farmers implement soil health and climate-smart agriculture practices and systems on more than 6000 acres in Wisconsin and Maine.
McCain and Campbell both have corporate programs to help growers in their supply chains adopt regenerative agriculture practices and help fight climate change.
“As potato growers face increasing challenges from climate change and variable weather, shifting towards smart and sustainable farming practices is vital,” said Dan Metheringham, McCain Foods’ Vice President of Agriculture North America.
“We are profoundly grateful that USDA has invested nearly $7 million in our soil health project, which will advance our work with McCain growers and customers to re-imagine the way potatoes are grown. The funding award is an important step toward meeting McCain’s bold commitment to implement regenerative agricultural practices across 100 percent of our potato acreage worldwide by the end of 2030,” he added.
The project will use the USDA funding to scale up an existing soil health technical assistance partnership, supporting sustainable farming that prioritizes soil health through residue and tillage management, cover cropping, nutrient management, soil carbon amendment, and pest management.
Growers participating in the program will form peer coaching cohorts to build their conservation plans with support from SHI. McCain has successfully piloted this model with SHI and growers in other regions.
“Potatoes are a key ingredient in many of our products including soup and chips, so it is important for us to support our partner growers in adopting and increasing sustainable agricultural practices,” said Stewart Lindsay, Campbell’s Vice President of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability.
“We are grateful for the USDA’s support and look forward to partnering to advance soil health and climate-smart agriculture practices in our supply chain,” he continued.
In 2021, McCain Foods established its Regenerative Agriculture Framework, designed to support farmers in their progression to a more regenerative farming model for potatoes.
The framework was developed in consultation with farmer representatives, university academics, scientific organizations, customers, and non-profit organizations.
McCain’s RCPP project is the latest in a series of initiatives McCain has undergone to implement its regenerative agriculture framework since it was established.
This partnership will also contribute to Campbell’s ongoing potato sustainability program, including other initiatives launched this year to support its growers to adopt and measure the impact of regenerative agriculture practices.