In the words of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, “the Minnesota River is unhealthy. Sediment clouds the water, phosphorus causes algae, nitrogen poses risks to humans and fish, and bacteria make the water unsafe for swimming.” Regenerative agriculture is a tool to reduce phosphorus, nitrogen, and sediment loading. The majority of the region is in a corn/soybean rotation, and roughly half of farmers in Minnesota are tenants who face unique obstacles. Many tenant farmers have difficulty negotiating leases which make regenerative practices economically viable. Corollarily, many non-operating landowners have difficulty “speaking the language” of conventional farmers and nudging them toward more regenerative operations. We propose a series of interactive conferences bringing together farmers with landowners and facilitating ongoing peer-to-peer mentorship. As farmers learn best from other farmers, we have partnered with farmer and landowner leaders through every step of the process. Facilitating ongoing peer-to-peer support among conventional corn/soybean farmers is critical to enacting landscape-level change and improving water quality in the region.
Project objectives from proposal:
- Educate 250 farmers at 5 conferences through the Minnesota River Valley on ways to negotiate with landowners to make adoption of regenerative practices more feasible
- Educate landowners regarding the benefits of encouraging regenerative practices on their land
- Expose landowners and farmers to each other’s perspective
- Recruit landowners and farmers to an ongoing mentorship opportunity where they may have more success at adopting or encouraging regenerative practices
- Increase number of producers that adopt enduring regenerative agricultural practices
- Improve economic sustainability of tenant farming and farmland leasing through smarter contracts and regenerative agriculture