September 16, 2021 10:00 AM, EDT

Cargill to Pay Growers for Carbon-Friendly Farming Methods

Cargill to Pay Growers for Carbon-Friendly Farming MethodsA farmer pulls weeds from a field. (Daniel Acker/Bloomberg)

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Commodity superpower Cargill Inc. is starting to pay American farmers to adopt growing practices that boost soil health and trap carbon.

The biggest closely held U.S. company says such farming methods, known as regenerative agriculture, will create new revenue streams for farmers and allow customers who buy packaged goods from Cargill to meet sustainability goals.

The sequestration of carbon helps eliminate man-made greenhouse gas emissions, and farmers could play an important role in slowing climate change by using more environmentally friendly growing techniques. Agriculture accounts for 10% of all U.S. emissions.

While other companies including Indigo Ag have started paying farmers for capturing carbon, Cargill says its reach from the field to finished products such as meat and animal feed give it an advantage.

“We are acting as a bridge between” farmers and consumer packaged goods companies, Ben Fargher, vice president of sustainability at Cargill, said by phone. “We need to produce food and deliver an environmental outcome together.”

Cargill’s program is part of a commitment to advance regenerative-agriculture practices across 10 million acres of North American land by 2030. Techniques include growing cover crops, which are planted after principal crops to help reduce erosion. So far, farmers have enrolled in the program for states including Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Arkansas, Missouri and Tennessee.

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