Project will deploy funding from USDA's Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities and matching funds from grant partners to scale production and demand for climate-smart corn, soybean, wheat, cotton and milk production
Arden Hills, MN /PRNewswire/ - Truterra, LLC, the sustainability business of Land O'Lakes, Inc., one of America's largest farmer-owned cooperatives, and American Farmland Trust (AFT), a nonprofit focused on farmland protection and stewardship, along with additional industry, non-profit and food and agriculture company grant partners and supporters, today announced their successful bid for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities.
In a highly competitive application process, Truterra and AFT's Climate SMART (Scaling Mechanisms for Agriculture's Regenerative Transformation) pilot project distinguished itself with in-depth experience in production agriculture, access to infrastructure to scale rapidly due to industry-leading access to farmers across the country, the trust that grant partners have already built through 225 years of collective experience working side by side with farmers, and a pragmatic approach to connecting pieces of the puzzle that already exist to help shape a more self-sustaining ecosystem. As a result, the pilot project intends to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by approximately 7.2 million metric tons of CO2e over the course of five years – roughly the equivalent of taking 1.5 million cars off the road for a year.1
"Land O'Lakes, along with AFT and other grant partners, is ready to tackle what is fundamentally a connection problem in the current climate-smart commodities market. We want to close those gaps by creating a self-sustaining ecosystem that connects farmers already doing incredible work to support sustainability on their operations with the food and agriculture companies looking to buy those products, all while addressing cost, risk and knowledge barriers to regenerative agriculture practice adoption," said Land O'Lakes President and CEO Beth Ford. "As a farmer-owned cooperative, I see tremendous opportunity for Land O'Lakes member-owners and local retail agriculture businesses to lead development and scaling of this new market – and be rewarded for their stewardship while future-proofing their businesses for the long-term."
"Through Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities, USDA is delivering on our promise to build and expand market opportunities for American agriculture and be global leaders in climate-smart agricultural production," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "I'm glad to have the opportunity to join stakeholders involved in the project led by Truterra, the sustainability business of Land O'Lakes, to highlight our strong partnership in increasing the competitive advantage of U.S. agriculture, building wealth that stays in rural communities and supporting new revenue streams for America's climate-smart producers."
"American Farmland Trust is thrilled to join forces with Truterra to scale up climate-smart practices across this nation's agricultural lands, creating economic and resilience benefits for farmers and ranchers and environmental benefits for society and the planet," said Beth Sauerhaft, AFT Vice President of National Programs. "AFT brings its expertise in advanced soil health assessment and training, identifying and overcoming barriers to adoption, building capacity through training of trusted advisors and peer-to-peer network learning, analyzing success of economic incentives and identifying the social aspects of broad adoption, including by underserved diverse farmers who are so critical to this nation's agriculture. We look forward to collaborating to scale up on-farm adoption of soil health management systems, packaging pilot program outcomes for broader public consumption and in particular delivering culturally appropriate materials to underserved audiences."
"This is a great opportunity to work with small acreage farmers to ensure they'll be able to participate effectively in climate-smart agriculture and build more sustainable and resilient operations," said Ebonie Alexander, Executive Director, Black Family Land Trust.
"We feel very fortunate to have this opportunity to work with Truterra and so many organizations in bringing on-farm and environmental benefits of regenerative soil health systems to scale," said Dr. Wayne Honeycutt, President and CEO of the Soil Health Institute (SHI). "Through this project we will establish Soil Health Targets to quantify baselines and achievable levels of soil health and carbon, allowing educators and advisors to support a farmer's journey to producing climate-smart commodities with enhanced market opportunities."
Leveraging the unparalleled reach of the Land O'Lakes cooperative network, AFT and other grant partners and supporters, the pilot project seeks to engage up to 20,000 farmers and dairy producers and impact more than 7 million acres, with a focus on reaching historically underserved farmers.
Ag retailers will play a central role in the pilot project, working with grant partners to incent farmers to adopt regenerative agriculture practices, including helping match farmers with incentives, agronomic advice, peer-to-peer networks, data entry support and more to support improved soil health systems. Grant partners will deploy existing digital infrastructure, including the Truterra sustainability tool, to aid in measuring impact and supporting validation and quantification processes.
The pilot project will use initial funding from USDA and matching funds from grant partners to help incentivize practice changes. Over time, the partners intend for the project to become self-funding through the sale of climate-smart commodities and ecosystem credits to downstream buyers, some of which will be, in turn, reinvested in delivering technical assistance to farmers to support additional practice changes.
Additional partners and supporters include: Ag Gateway, Biofiltro, Continuum Ag, ESRI, Equilibrium Capital, Farmobile, FarmRaise, John Deere, La Crosse Seed, Macquarie, Microsoft, Northern Star Seed, Sound Ag, Strand Gard Stewardship, WinField United, Black Family Land Trust, Farm Credit Council, Federation of Southern Cooperatives, Minorities in Ag, Natural Res. & Related Sciences, Soil Health Institute, ButcherBox, Campbell Soup Company, Green Plains, The Hershey Company, Land O'Lakes Dairy Foods, Nestlé Purina Pet Care, Purina Animal Nutrition, Perdue, Primient, Tate & Lyle, Perennial, Colorado State Univ., SustainCERT and 50 ag retail cooperatives.
As work begins, the project will be actively seeking new prospective partners on two fronts: private sector buyers of supply-shed interventions for food, fuel and fiber, as well as carbon offsets and farmers interested in developing and marketing climate-smart commodities. Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org or your local ag retailer to learn more.
About Land O'Lakes, Inc.
Land O'Lakes, Inc., one of America's premier agribusiness and food companies, is a member-owned cooperative with industry-leading operations that span the spectrum from agricultural production to consumer foods. With 2021 annual sales of $16 billion, Land O'Lakes is one of the nation's largest cooperatives, ranking 232 on the Fortune 500. Building on a legacy of more than 100 years of operation, Land O'Lakes today operates some of the most respected brands in agribusiness and food production including Land O'Lakes Dairy Foods, Purina Animal Nutrition, WinField United and Truterra. The company does business in all 50 states and more than 60 countries. Land O'Lakes, Inc. corporate headquarters are located in Arden Hills, Minnesota.
About Truterra, LLC
Truterra is a leading sustainability solutions provider, advancing and connecting sustainability efforts throughout the food system at scale – from farmers to ag retailers to value chain collaborators including food and fiber companies. Truterra positions farmers for success by providing them tools and resources to establish a stewardship baseline, track progress on every field they farm, access conservation resources, and prepare for ecosystem services market opportunities. The Truterra network brings together the best in agricultural technology and precision conservation to drive sustainability across the food system, feeding people, safeguarding the planet, and supporting farmer livelihoods. Truterra was launched in 2016 by Land O'Lakes, Inc., a member-owned cooperative that spans the spectrum from agricultural production to consumer foods. To learn more, visit www.truterraag.com.