New revenue streams can provide opportunity

Dave Bergmeier

In working through this week’s cover story, I learned about opportunities farmers and ranchers have to add to their bottom line. It dawned on me it also generates many questions, which is good to see.

The Kansas Climate Smart Initiative had set a goal of 100,000 acres in 2022 and that goal was met and even with the challenges of Mother Nature. There are plans to expand to 200,000 acres and hopefully reach all 105 counties. The Kansas Association of Conservation Districts—which are farmer led—partners with ADM, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Other partners participating include the Kansas Department of Agriculture’s Division of Conservation and Soil Health Alliance. The goal is to expand cover crop initiatives.

Ultimately local conservation districts take signups and submit applications to ADM, which then pays farmers $10 an acre for their stewardship.

A recent National Cattlemen’s Beef Association webinar included presenters who spoke about opportunities for farmers and ranchers to draw on additional pools of revenue by working with companies. The presenters said producers in some cases may have much of the information companies require and it can be shared while keeping the data private.

A story in this week’s edition by Field Editor Kylene Scott noted that Tyson Foods has added its Climate-Smart Beef Program so producers can earn more money through their stewardship and help the company meet its long-term goals. Brazen Beef plans to use branded projects to leverage the information and data for the Climate-Smart Beef Program.

It will allow them to share information with eco-conscious consumers who enjoy the taste of real beef and want to know they too are part of the solution. Companies realize consumers want to be able to eat products and be environmentally sensitive. Farmers and ranchers—the nation’s first environmentalists—can embrace a solution that is voluntary and offers merit.

Many companies recognize the opportunity to recognize that farmers and ranchers are the key to them reaching their goal. As a result, they are willing to partner with them and compensate them. That message represents a potential win-win for producers who rightfully ask what is it in for them. They ask if they do participate does it mean a significant change in their practices. They also ask how progress is measured and record keeping requirements because the verification process is one that all entities agree is important.

Those questions are ongoing and there will be more questions that will need addressed. Companies have shown a willingness to listen and understand the constraints many farmers and ranchers face.

Most experts acknowledge that dealing with climate change is important but a long-term solution will be a challenging one. At the same time, companies are responding to what customers want and that is reflected throughout the food chain.

We encourage producers to continue to ask questions and be patient. The movement is here to stay and farmers and ranchers—as they always have been—are front and center when it comes to finding a solution.

Dave Bergmeier can be reached 620-227-1822 or [email protected].