McCain Foods Limited and McDonald's Canada have partnered to create the Future of Potato Farming Fund by investing $1M in education, demonstration, and cost-sharing grants to support the adoption of regenerative practices and technology by potato farmers.
The fund's goals are reportedly aimed at soil health and farm resilience as Canadian potato farmers face the escalating impacts of climate change on yield and crop quality.
"Climate change continues to impact the crop and our potato growing communities. To address this, McCain has pledged to implement regenerative agricultural practices across 100 per cent of its potato acreage by 2030," said Jeremy Carter, director agriculture, Western Canada, McCain Foods. "Through our shared vision with McDonald's Canada, we are focused on supporting our growers in accelerating the transition to the key principles of regenerative agriculture like maintaining living cover, reducing tillage intensity, diversifying rotations, reducing the intensity of chemical applications, and enhancing biodiversity. Education, demonstrations, and direct grower funding of practice adoption through this Fund may lead to achieving healthier Canadian soils while creating delicious, planet-friendly food."
In June, McCain Foods released its global “Regenerative Agriculture Framework” that sets definitions and measurements for a regenerative potato acre. Developed in collaboration with a range of stakeholders and used globally, this voluntary framework will support growers as they onboard to regenerative agriculture.
The Fund will be open to more than 130 Canadian farmers, who represent more than 76,000 acres of potato farmland. It will consist of two rounds of grants for growers to implement established regulatory practices to build soil health and resilience starting in August 2022. Growers can apply to the Fund for cost-sharing from a list of priority regenerative practices and technologies, such as cover crop seed, flower strip seed, lower intensity tillage equipment, decision support systems, organic soil amendments, and more.
Funding decisions will be made jointly by an expert selection committee comprised of representatives from McDonald's Canada, McCain Foods, The Soil Health Institute, and a representative from a national potato farming association. McDonald's Canada and McCain Foods will be working with the Soil Health Institute to measure progress throughout the program, specifically increased soil organic carbon and total nitrogen, increased bulk density and aggregate stability and plant available water and better drainage capacity.