Farmers considering cover crops for the first time are eligible for a new cost-share option from Practical Farmers of Iowa and Unilever. Informally called the “40 x 40” program, farmers brand-new to cover crops can earn $40 per acre on up to 40 acres of cover-cropped ground.


The funds are one of the cost-share options available through Unilever’s Sustainable Soy Program, which is open to farmers who sell soybeans to the Archer Daniels Midland supply chain. Practical Farmers is a partner in the program, which provides cost-share and agronomic support for planting cover crops and gives participants access to a robust cover crop support system through PFI’s network.


Soybean farmers who want to learn more about the program – including those new to cover crops as well as those already growing them – are invited to a free dinner and informational meeting on Monday, Feb. 4, from 5:30-8 p.m., at the Gateway Hotel in Ames, located at 2100 Green Hills Drive.


To RSVP for the dinner, fill out the form on PFI’s website, or contact Debra Boekholder at 515-232-5661 or debra@practicalfarmers.org.


The event opens with a reception at 5:30 p.m. The dinner and program portion run from 6-8 p.m., and will feature Iowa Soybean Association CEO Kirk Leeds, who will share insights on soybean exports and tariffs, and southwest Iowa farmer Ray Gaesser, who will share his playbook for how he plants and manages 2,600 acres of cover crops.


Guests unfamiliar with the Sustainable Soy Program will get to hear about cost-share opportunities they can access through it, while those already enrolled will find out what’s new in 2019. There will also be time to ask questions about the program or sign up for a free consultation with PFI.


Also new to the Sustainable Soy Program this year, first-time customers to Iowa Cover Crop and its dealer network are eligible for a cover crop seed and application discount this fall.


Cost-share program details


The Sustainable Soy Program is open to farmers who sell soybeans to the Archer Daniels Midland supply chain. All farmers, including those who already use cover crops, are eligible to receive $10 per acre on up to 10 percent of their total farmed acres through the Sustainable Soy cost-share program. These funds can be combined with other programs for coverage on up to 160 acres of cover crops, or 10 percent of farmed acres, whichever is larger.


Participants also receive a complimentary membership to Practical Farmers of Iowa, which provides access to a broad and active group of experienced cover crop farmers in Iowa and surrounding states, as well as numerous opportunities to learn about cover crops through field days, workshops and other events.


Farmers who do not want to plant cover crops can still participate in the Sustainable Soy program by exploring other practices that could improve soil health, such as reducing tillage and improving fertilizer management. While there is no cost-share or other funding support available for those practices, farmers who wish to go this route still receive complimentary Practical Farmers membership and can avail themselves of PFI’s network.


Unilever, the parent company of Hellman’s mayonnaise, initiated the Sustainable Soy program in 2015 – in partnership with ADM, Iowa Soybean Association, United Soybean Board, World Wildlife Fund and Practical Farmers of Iowa – in an effort to lessen the environmental footprint of its supply chain and fulfill its corporate commitment to sustainability. The company has made cover crop money available to farmers who grow soybeans that ADM uses to make soybean oil for Hellman’s mayonnaise.


For more information on the program visit the PFI website, or contact Alisha Bower at 515-232-5661 or alisha@practicalfarmers.org.