A new cost-share initiative was announced last week by a company that sells cover crop seed. The program offers up to $25 per acre plus discounts on Soil First brand cover crop seed by La Crosse Seed to Iowa soybean growers willing to establish or expand their cover crop acreage and sign onto the Unilever/ADM Sustainable Soy Continuation Improvement Program. The program is paving the way for a supply chain that will ultimately allow Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) to supply sustainably produced soybean oil to Unilever for Hellmann's and Best Foods mayonnaise.
"This cover crop cost-share program is a great opportunity for farmers," says Maree Deventer, soy sustainability program coordinator for ADM in Des Moines. "It will help provide financial assistance to farmers who see the benefits and learn firsthand how cover crops work on their farm. Participants will have access to special field days and one-on-one advice from other successful farmers and be able to use the Field to Market Fieldprint Calculator to compare data from their operations to sustainability indicators from farms around the country.
Company wants to source sustainably produced soybeans
'"Participating farmers will also be at the cutting edge of a new supply chain, through which buyers like Unilever will increasingly be seeking out products from certified sustainably grown soybeans," Deventer adds.
Unilever's senior manager for external affairs and sustainability, Stefani Millie Grant, notes that her company, Unilever, aims to source certified sustainably produced soybeans from 1 million acres by the end of 2017. The Unilever/ADM program enables farmers to document their performance on key sustainability criteria and continually improve their operations.
"Many farmers are already farming sustainably," Grant says. "Using the Field to Market Fieldprint Calculator and enrolling in the Unilever/ADM Sustainable Soy Continuous Improvement Program allows them to document it. It's a powerful story to tell to buyers like us and to the consumers who buy our products to feed their families."
New and experienced cover croppers eligible for cost-share
Cover crops provide protection from soil erosion and nutrient loss to fields after harvest and into the spring. They may be grazed or harvested for hay or silage but may not be harvested for grain. Farmers who have not used crops more than once in the past three year are eligible for the $25 per acre in cost-share funds, plus a discount on cover crop seed sourced from La Crosse Seed resellers. Soybean producers who have used cover crops more frequently but wish to expand their cover crop acreage or diversify their cover crop plantings may receive $15 per acre plus the seed discount.
Cost-share funding is capped at 160 acres per applicant expect in cases of special requests that will be considered individually. Farmers already enrolled in the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy's practice implementation and demonstration projects are not eligible for the new funds.