ST. LOUIS (KAMR/KCIT) — USDA officials announced that their partnerships with Climate-Smart Commodities program will award Farmers for Soil Health (FSH) a $95 million grant.
According to the press release, FSH plans to launch a program that aims to advance the adoption of cover crops and conservation tillage in the 20 states that produce over 85% of the nation’s corn and soybeans.
USDA said the grant is enough to double FSH’s goal of crop acres in the U.S. to 30 million 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.”
Officials state that farmers can receive three years of declining cost-share payments that can help them transition to utilizing cover crops.
FSH officials will work with a data insights publishing company (DTN) to monitor crops through a digital platform using satellites that can provide farmers with an “eco-score”.This can benefit the marketing of crops by adding a documented source of sustainability.
FSH partners with the American Soybean Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Pork Board, and the United Soybean Board aiming to improve soil health across the U.S.
USDA adds that 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.
Officials state that to execute this grant, FSH requires 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.
For more information on USDA’s Climate-Smart Commodities program visit, here.