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Group funds half a million acres of cover crops in Midwest

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation announced $2.6 million in grants on Wednesday to help farmers plant cover crops across 500,000 acres in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, and Minnesota.

The grants, part of the nonprofit’s new Midwest Cover Crop Initiative, were funded by the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and Archer Daniels Midland.

2021 USDA report on cover crops showed that the practice is increasing rapidly — growing from 10.3 million acres in 2012 to 15.4 million acres in 2017. However, the report noted, that still amounts to only 5.1% of cropland in the country.

“Cover crops are a win–win for farmers and conservation,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF, in a statement. “We are proud to partner with ADM and NRCS to accelerate the adoption of a regenerative agriculture practice that generates so many benefits for our water, wildlife, the climate, farming communities, and farmers’ bottom lines.”

The grant recipients — which include American Farmland Trust, Ducks Unlimited, the Kansas Association of Conservation Districts, the Minnesota Soil Health Coalition, and Practical Farmers of Iowa — will provide technical assistance to approximately 1,800 farmers and help the farmers enroll in public and private programs designed to defray costs and minimize financial risk associated with cover crop adoption through the NRCS and ADM.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.
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