Powerful collaboration will scale conservation through data, policy and farmer outreach
Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) today announced a first-of-its-kind partnership between an environmental organization and commodity crop association. The partnership aims to address one of the most pressing challenges for today’s farmers, rural communities and natural resources – how to improve environmental outcomes while optimizing productivity and profitability.
“Many practices that increase soil health and water quality also boost farmers’ bottom lines,” said Suzy Friedman, senior director of agricultural sustainability at EDF. “EDF and NCGA have worked together for many years to align economic incentives and environmental outcomes. Formalizing our partnership was a natural next step to accelerate progress toward our shared goals.”
“The public expects greater stewardship and transparency from farmers, and it’s critical for the agricultural sector to show leadership on conservation,” said Nathan Fields, vice president of production and sustainability at NCGA. “EDF and NCGA are stronger together. We have different expertise and perspectives, and combining them is a real opportunity.”
The partnership will elevate the importance of continuous improvements for water quality and climate resilience, while strengthening yields and profitability. Priority work streams include:
- Data and measurement to improve tracking of water quality, soil health and greenhouse gas emissions, and scale user-friendly technology solutions for data reporting and analysis.
- On-farm engagement to increase farmer and agronomist knowledge about innovative conservation tools and practices.
- Policy advocacy to support voluntary, incentive-based conservation programs with measurable environmental outcomes.
- Finance and economics to explore and grow opportunities for farmers to benefit economically from conservation practices such as cover crops and conservation tillage.
- Outreach and communications to build bridges between farmers and consumers.
Agricultural and environmental communities celebrated this unexpected partnership.
“Farming is a tough business with tight margins. Stewardship has always been a way of life for us, but we also have to stay profitable and productive. EDF was the first environmental group to reach out to farmers and listen to our perspectives. I’m excited to see what EDF and NCGA can accomplish together,” said Brandon Hunnicutt, Nebraska farmer and member of NCGA’s Corn Board.
“Achieving supply chain sustainability goals requires close collaboration throughout the value chain. This partnership between EDF and NCGA promises to be a powerful way to help translate corporate sustainability commitments into on-farm conservation that works for farmers and the environment,” said Rod Snyder, president of Field to Market.
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CommonGround is a group of farmers connecting with consumers through conversations about science and research and personal stories about food and misinformation surrounding farming. Supported by the NCGA and state corn organizations.
The Soil Health Partnership (SHP) is a farmer-led initiative that fosters transformation in agriculture through improved soil health. Administered by NCGA the partnership has more than 220 working farms enrolled in 16 states. SHP’s mission is to utilize science and data to partner with farmers who are adopting conservation agricultural practices that improve the economic and environmental sustainability of the farm.
The Corn Utilization and Technology Conference (CUTC) is a biennial event happening this June. Learn more.