McDonald’s Canada, McCain Foods launch the $1M Future of Potato Farming Fund

by | Aug 11, 2022

McDonald’s Canada, McCain Foods launch the $1M Future of Potato Farming Fund
First-of-a-kind initiative to provide potato growers with education, cost-sharing grants to help improve soil health through regenerative farming practices and technology

McDonald’s Canada and McCain Foods Limited announced a new partnership on Aug. 10 to create the Future of Potato Farming Fund by investing $1M in education, demonstration, and cost-sharing grants to support potato farmer adoption of regenerative practices and technology.

In a press release, the corporate giants explained the fund’s goals are building soil health and farm resilience as Canadian potato farmers face the escalating impacts of climate change on yield and crop quality.

“McDonald’s World Famous Fries come from 100 per cent Canadian potatoes, and each one starts with healthy soil and Canada’s dedicated potato growers,” said Gemma Pryor, Senior Director, Canada Impact Team, McDonald’s Canada. “McDonald’s Canada and McCain Foods have a long-standing relationship with potato growers across Canada and are working together to help advance agricultural practices and support the next generation of Canadian farmers.”

The release explained that Canadian farmers already see the impacts of a changing climate through sudden storms, drought, unseasonable moisture, early frosts, cool springs, blazing heat waves, and more.
It said climate change overwhelmingly impacts financial sustainability on the farm while threatening food security and crop quality in Canada.

The McDonald’s McCain Future of Potato Farming Fund aims to safeguard Canada’s farming industry by supporting farmer adoption of regenerative practices that improve soil health and build critical resilience on the farm. Jeremy Carter, Director Agriculture, Western Canada, McCain Foods, noted climate change’s impact on the crop and potato-growing communities.

“To address this, McCain has pledged to implement regenerative agricultural practices across 100 per cent of its potato acreage by 2030,” he said. “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 clear definitions and measurements for a regenerative potato acre. Developed in collaboration with a range of stakeholders and used globally, the release said the voluntary framework will support growers as they onboard to regenerative agriculture.

McDonald’s Canada explained in the release that as a fellow food industry leader, it sources from, invests in, and works with partners and suppliers who align with its values to help build a thriving, resilient food system. It explained that the company is living its purpose to feed and foster communities – food quality and sourcing is one way it takes positive action on key areas that matter to Canadians.

Potatoes NB Executive Director Matt Hemphill said the partnership between McDonald’s Canada and McCain Foods highlights the importance of coming together as an industry to support Canadian farmers in their ongoing transition to regenerative agriculture.
“Canadian potato farmers are excited to trial priority regenerative practices and technology through the fund’s cost-share mechanism,” he said. “This is a great example of supporting Canadian farmers with the tools they need to trial regenerative farming techniques, with an aim to future-proofing the land, and ensuring quality potatoes to share with Canadians for generations to come.”
The release explained that the fund will be open to more than 130 Canadian farmers, representing 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 national potato farming association representative.

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.

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