In the ever changing landscape of food production and renewed emphasis on sustainability, Upfield, the company behind Country Crock, has partnered with No-Till on the Plains to provide cover crop cost share opportunities for farmers in eastern Kansas and the western edge of Missouri.

“The target for us is to put carbon back into soil where it hasn’t been replaced recently,” said No-Till on the Plains executive director Steve Swaffer. “Sustainability is the name of the game for this program.”

Up to 13,000 acres in a selection of close to 30 Kansas-Missouri border counties will be eligible for the program, which offers $10 per acre toward planting cover crops. Farms participating in the program will enroll a minimum of 40 acres in a one-year contract with No-Till on the Plains and Upfield.

There are no restrictions on the type or kind of cover crops planted, as long as they are planted on fields that have not utilized cover crops in the past. Fields enrolled in the program should have been planted in soybeans at some point in their history, as Country Crock contains a large percentage soybean oil and is targeting farms that help source their product.

For diversified operations, cover crop mixes formulated for grazing are permitted in the cost-share with a few key limitations.

“One important question we’ve received is whether the cover crops can be grazed in this program,” Swaffer said. “The answer is yes, but only lightly down to 70% cover because our goal is restoring carbon into the soil through residue.”

For the 2020 iteration of the program, cover crops must be planted between October 1, 2020 and September 30, 2021. Participants will agree to provide FSA-578 documentation, provide receipts for purchased cover crop seed and input data into a fieldprint calculator.

“One of the things they are going to want to know is how much carbon is going into the soil from the planting of these cover crops,” Swaffer said. “That’s going to be done through a program called Field-to-Market, it’s an online calculator that you input information into field by field.”

While Upfield is interested in tracking the carbon replaced in the soil by farming practices encouraged through this program, the company will not be selling carbon credits made during their efforts. The program is simply to give back to local farmers and encourage sustainable practices surrounding the product.

“Country Crock is made in Kansas, the plant is actually in New Century, in Johnson County,” Swaffer said. “Every tub of Country Crock you see on the shelves is made locally.”

Swaffer said Upfield’s main motivation is investing in the sustainability and longevity of local farms that help provide the raw ingredients for their product.

For more information about the project, eligible counties or to enroll, visit http://www.notill.org/cover-crop-cost-share-program-upfield-and-no-till-on-the-plains.

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