The McKnight Foundation Awards Delta Institute a Grant to Develop Innovative Approach to Scale Up Conservation Across Upper Midwest

On September 28, the McKnight Foundation approved a $75,000 grant to Delta Institute to design an innovative risk mitigation program for small to midsize family farms that adopt conservation cropping systems emphasizing continuous living cover. This grant was made through McKnight’s Mississippi River program, which aims to restore the water quality and resilience of the Mississippi River.

This project stems from our current portfolio of agricultural conservation work in which we identified a gap in providing innovative risk mitigation measures for farmers who might not otherwise adopt conservation strategies. Delta recognized an opportunity to create a program that is complementary to current crop insurance offerings, in order to provide farmers with a safety net when they invest in conservation cropping systems (CCS).

With the McKnight Foundation’s assistance, we will design an innovative risk mitigation program that accounts for the full benefits of conservation practices. The program aims to mitigate risk by delivering reliable estimations of short-term revenue and long-term value of conservation strategies and, where forecasts fall short, provide needed support for farmers.

With an improved understanding of and accounting for risks associated with implementation of conservation practices, we can scale up conservation efforts across the region, increasing resilience to climate change, achieving measurable improvements soil and water health, and providing economic stability for farmers.

Delta collaborates with communities to solve complex environmental challenges throughout the Midwest. We are currently working to build a new food economy oriented around healthy land and people, and we do this by creating mechanisms that: help farmers improve their practices, direct investment into regenerative farming techniques, and maximize environmental and social outcomes.

The McKnight Foundation, a Minnesota-based family foundation, seeks to improve the quality of life for present and future generations. Program interests include regional economic and community development, Minnesota’s arts and artists, education equity, youth engagement, Midwest climate and energy, Mississippi River water quality, neuroscience research, international crop research, and rural livelihoods. Founded in 1953 and independently endowed by William and Maude McKnight, the Foundation had assets of approximately $2.2 billion and granted about $87 million in 2016.

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