September 15, 2015: United States Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the award of $243,933 over three years from the Conservation Innovation Grants program to Environmental Initiative and Conservation Marketplace Midwest (CMM) to support the Field Stewards project, an offset credit system for environmental protection on farmland in development by Environmental Initiative.
“This year’s slate of projects is truly outstanding,” Vilsack said. “Our partner awardees are progressive and forward-thinking and looking to solve natural resource problems, and also engaging with underserved farmers and ranchers.”
The Field Stewards project will reward farmers for meeting a high level of environmental protection on their commodity crop (corn and soybean) fields. Food companies can purchase environmental credits generated by certified farmers, and use them to offset the environmental impact of a company’s supply chain. USDA grant funds will be shared among the project partners to develop the policy and administrative framework of the proposed Field Stewards market, recruit and enroll eligible farmers, and deploy and test the market system.
“The Field Stewards project is an unique approach to protecting natural resources in farm country,” said Mike Harley, Executive Director of Environmental Initiative. “With the help of this grant from the USDA and support from private business, Field Stewards will support leading producers who achieve a strong level of environmental protection in their farm operations.”
“As we work with producers to implement voluntary best management practices that protect and restore our natural resources, it is beneficial to have a program like Field Stewards that provides a financial incentive,” said Dennis Fuchs, Stearns County Soil and Water Conservation District Administrator and CMM Board President. “It shows the producer that private industry is willing to support their extra efforts associated with implementing additional conservation practices.”
The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service awarded $20.5 million for 45 projects through Conservation Innovation Grants. More information about the grants can be found here.
If you would like more information about the Field Stewards program please contact Greg Bohrer, Senior Manager, Agriculture and Environment Program, at 612-334-3388 ext. 111.