November 1, 2022 By Fruit & Vegetable
On Nov. 1, McCain Foods and Farm Credit Canada (FCC) announced a new joint offering to reduce financial barriers for potato farmers who are transitioning to sustainable agricultural practices.
The initiative will assist McCain in advancing its goal to implement regenerative agricultural practices across 100 per cent of its contract potato acreage worldwide by 2030. The transition to more sustainable farming practices often requires up-front investments in new equipment and practices from farmers.
This initiative in Canada will offer financial incentives to McCain potato farmers who are at the onboarding level or higher on McCain’s Regenerative Agriculture Framework. It uses a combination of funds from FCC’s Sustainability Incentive Program and McCain to issue an annual incentive to farmers for the life of the program.
Through its Sustainability Incentive Program, FCC customers who are also McCain suppliers are eligible to receive an incentive payment for their farm’s sustainability efforts. The calculation will be based on a portion of their total owing for eligible lending with FCC to a maximum payment of $2,000 per year. Participating McCain potato growers will also receive free access to FCC AgExpert farm management software for a year.
“We are proud to both reward McCain potato farmers who are leading the way on regenerative agriculture and reduce financial barriers for those who are starting their journey,” says Daniel Metheringham, McCain’s vice-president of agriculture. “We are working together with our growers, customers and key stakeholders to launch a range of programs that reduce the barriers to adopting regenerative practices and ultimately build resilience on Canadian farms.”
“Canadian agriculture producers care about their operations and are continuously evolving their production practices to ensure the long-term sustainability of their farms,” says Curtis Grainger, FCC’s director of lending products and sustainability programs. “FCC is committed to joining them on that journey and we are working with others in the industry to find ways to support them.”
Through this offer, McCain will add to the FCC incentive paid to its potato farmers, based on where the farmers are relative to McCain’s Regenerative Agricultural Framework. Farmers at the “onboarding” level will receive matching funds. For farmers at the “beginner” level, McCain will match $2 for every dollar received from FCC. The incentive from McCain increases as farmers progress through the framework to the Master and Expert levels. The incentive offered at these levels is roughly equal to interest-free financing (assuming up to $400,000 at 4 per cent) to a maximum payment of $14,000 from McCain and $2,000 from FCC.
“The ability for expert and master regenerative farmers to receive a significant incentive reduces barriers to farm investment in an era of rising rates, increasing complexity, and escalating climate variability,” says Matt Hemphill, executive director of New Brunswick Potatoes.
Regenerative agriculture is an ecosystem-based approach to farming that aims to improve farmer resilience, yield and quality by restoring soil health, enhancing biodiversity and reducing the impact of synthetic inputs.
To ensure that regenerative agriculture is both feasible and economically viable for farmers, McCain is testing its practices and principles and experimenting with new equipment and technology with its Farms of the Future project, the first of which is located in McCain’s hometown of Florenceville, N.B.
McCain also recently introduced “regen fries” as part of their #SaveOurSoil initiative, another aspect of the company’s commitment to implementing regenerative ag practices on its global contract potato acres. Regen fries are made with potatoes that are grown using regenerative farming methods which build soil health, improve biodiversity, and enhance on-farm resilience to climate change.
The aim of #SaveOurSoil is to educate and engage next-generation audiences, serving regen fries in the spaces where they are already enjoying spending time. Through collaborations with one of the largest Metaverse platforms, Roblox, and the first NFT-themed restaurant, Bored & Hungry (California), McCain is providing a stage for younger audiences to better understand the challenges currently facing the farming community and the benefits of regenerative farming.
McCain and Bored & Hungry will be setting up pop-up locations to serve regen fries in Toronto on Nov. 16 to 18.
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