BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — Midwestern farmers can soon earn compensation for conservation practices thanks to a new partnership between the Illinois Soybean Association, the Soil and Water Outcomes Fund and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS).
The Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) and other partners are recipients of a $8.5 million Regional Conservation Partnership Program Alternative Funding Arrangement (RCPP-AFA) award courtesy of USDA NRCS. This award is one of 15 projects funded nationwide.
ISA will work in partnership with the Indiana Soybean Alliance, Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council, Missouri Corn Merchandising Council, ReHarvest Partners, Nutrien Ag Solutions, PepsiCo to produce water quality and climate outcomes resulting from new conservation practice implementation on 70,000 acres annually in 2022 and 2023. At this acreage, the project estimates the following environmental outcomes over the project period: 1.82 million pounds of nitrogen reduction, 112,000 pounds of phosphorus reduction, and 105,000 tons of CO2e sequestration.
The project will replicate and scale up the ongoing Soil and Water Outcomes Fund approach to producing environmental outcome. In 2021 the Soil and Water Outcomes Fund conducted a pilot project across 20,000 acres in Illinois. RCPP funding will be used to pay for the verified water quality outcomes while partner contributions from Nutrien Ag Solutions and PepsiCo will pay for the verified carbon reductions from enrolled cropland.
Created jointly managed by the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) and Washington D.C. based Quantified Ventures, the Soil and Water Outcomes Fund uses investment capital to compensate farmers for positive environmental outcomes generated by conservation-oriented practices on their farms, specifically water quality improvement and enhanced carbon sequestration. These outcomes are independently quantified and then purchased by government entities and private corporations.
“Navigating this space through a partnership with the Soil and Water Outcomes Fund and USDA is a unique opportunity to understand how farmers are able to participate in an ecosystems market while ensuring their needs and the principles behind sustainable farming practices are put first,” says Abigail Peterson, ISA Director of Agronomy. “We are looking forward to this new partnership and being able to bring the opportunity to not only our Illinois farmers, but to farmers across the Midwest.”
More information about the Soil and Water Outcomes Fund can be found at www.theoutcomesfund.com.
The Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) checkoff and membership programs represent more than 43,000 soybean farmers in Illinois. The checkoff funds market development and utilization efforts while the membership program supports the government relations interests of Illinois soybean farmers at the local, state, and national level, through the Illinois Soybean Growers (ISG). ISA upholds the interests of Illinois soybean producers through promotion, advocacy, and education with the vision of becoming a market leader in sustainable soybean production and profitability. For more information, visit the website www.ilsoy.org.
— Illinois Soybean Association
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