The farming industry stands to benefit financially from regenerative agriculture practices, Cargill chairman and CEO David MacLennan told members of the National Feed and Grain Association at the organization’s annual convention. In a study of 100 farmers across nine states conducted by The Soil Health Institute, researchers found that soil health management systems increased incomes for 85% of farmers growing corn and 88% of farmers growing soybeans, he pointed out.
Average incomes for corn growers increased by $52 per acre; soybean growers saw an increase of $45 per acre. Additionally, farmers reported reduced average costs, increased yields, better crop resilience against extreme weather events, and improved water quality. Improving economic outcomes for farmers and ranchers in terms of regenerative agriculture will play a key role in achieving global supply chain resilience, MacLennan indicated.
Additionally, there are programs that offer support, training and financial assistance for farmers who want to rebuild the health of their soils, plant cover crops, use more sustainable grazing practices, and make better use of their water, he said. For example, through the Iowa Soil & Water Outcomes Fund, farmers can receive $30 to $50 per acre for practices such as cover crops, reduced tillage, and optimized nutrient management.
In 2019, greenhouse gas emissions from the agriculture economic sector accounted for 10% of total US greenhouse gas emissions, and GHG emissions from agriculture have increased by 12% since 1990, according to the EPA. Farmers and ranchers, at the root of the agriculture supply chain, play a critical role in creating a more sustainable future for the industry by improving water quality, sequestering carbon, building up the resilience of soil, and reducing carbon emissions, MacLennan said.
Cargill has made strides to advance sustainability commitments including its science-based climate commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in its global supply chains by 30% per ton of product by 2030. The company is also working to support voluntary, farmer led adoption of regenerative agriculture across 10 million acres of North American farmland over the same time period.