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Climate-Smart ag grants promote cover crops, conservation tillage

ST. LOUIS — The Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities program announced it will award Farmers for Soil Health a $95 million grant to launch a program to advance the adoption of cover crops and conservation tillage in 20 states that produce over 85% of the nation’s corn and soybeans.

The funding is intended to facilitate major progress toward FSH’s goal of doubling cover crop acres in the U.S. to 30 million acres by 2030.

“Cover crops improve soil structure, help recycle nutrients, reduce soil erosion, increase the soil’s water holding capacity and sequester carbon. This reduces the environmental footprint of corn, soybeans and pork production because corn and soybeans are the two primary ingredients fed to pigs,” said Dale Stevermer, Minnesota corn, soy and pig farmer. “It can take a few years to learn how to best utilize cover crops, and this Farmers for Soil Health program will help farmers accelerate that learning curve.”

The program will offer farmers three years of declining cost share payments to help them transition to utilizing cover crops. FSH will also work with data insights and publishing company DTN to develop a digital platform that will use satellite imagery, allowing farmers to receive an “eco-score” for corn and soybeans produced with cover crops and conservation tillage. This platform will facilitate the marketing of crops to parties interested in securing a documented source of sustainably produced corn and soybeans.

FSH is a collaborative effort of the American Soybean Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Pork Board and the United Soybean Board with the mission to advance conservation practices to improve soil health across the U.S. The grant will fund cost share and technical assistance for cover crops to 8,000-10,000 farmers on 1.44 million acres of corn and soybeans.

To execute this grant, FSH will receive technical assistance from the National Association of Conservation Districts, The Sustainability Consortium, Soil Health Institute, University of Missouri Center for Regenerative Agriculture, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, DTN, National Center for Appropriate Technology, and Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural America.

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