The Soil and Water Outcomes Fund could pay farmers up to US$45 per acre
By Diego Flammini
Three organizations are working together to compensate farmers for implementing soil health and water conservation practices.
Cargill, the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) and Quantified Ventures have launched the Soil and Water Outcomes Fund, which could pay producers between US$30 and US$45 per acre for capturing carbon, reducing fertilizer runoff and implementing other practices.
“Farmers are well positioned to play a lead role in improving water quality and sequestering carbon,” Adam Kiel, director of conservation and external programs with ISA, said in an April 9 statement. “It’s also an ideal way for farmers to scale beyond the acre and contract limits of traditional government-funded cost share programs.”
Cargill and a grant from the Walton Family Foundation (the family behind Walmart) will provide the funds for the program. ISA and Quantified Ventures will administer the fund while the latter will also help verify a farmer’s results.
The environmental credits are then sold to other polluters like municipalities or manufacturers, and the funds collected are used to support the fund.
About 10,000 Iowa acres are already enrolled in the fund.
This year, farmers will help reduce the volume of phosphorus runoff by about 10,000 pounds and sequester about 7,500 tons of carbon dioxide in soils. The carbon dioxide figure equates to removing almost 1,500 cars from the road.
Producers like Lance Lillibridge of Vinton, Iowa, who has about 300 acres enrolled in the program, are pleased to be rewarded for their conservation practices.
“For a farmer, our margins are really small. In fact, right now there’s no margin at all … This is the first time that we are rewarded for our sustainability efforts,” he told Reuters.
Farms.com has reached out to ISA and individual farmers for comment on the program.