Advancing U.S. Pork Sustainability Grant - Pork Checkoff
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Advancing U.S. Pork Sustainability Grant

The Advancing U.S. Pork Sustainability grant is a new opportunity for farmers in Iowa, Minnesota and Missouri to receive technical support and incentives for adopting climate-smart agriculture practices.

Grant Supports Climate-Smart, On-Farm Practices

The five-year, $35 million grant program is administered by the National Pork Board (NPB) and six collaborating organizations through USDA’s Partnership for Climate-Smart Commodities program.

The grant program will provide technical assistance and financial incentives for the adoption of the following practices:

  • cover crops
  • livestock integration (in cover crops)
  • conservation tillage (no till)
  • manure management
  • edge-of-field and perennial grass buffers
  • in-barn LED lighting

How It Works In 5 Steps

1. Eligible producers in Iowa, Minnesota and Missouri sign up for a Pork Cares Farm Impact Report.

2. Producers work with NPB’s trusted partner, Eocene Environmental Group complete their report. An Eocene technician — such as an agronomist and livestock specialist will assist in collecting the on-farm data needed for the report.

3. Producers decide on an implementation plan for climate-smart agriculture (CSA) practices on their farm.

4. Producers will receive technical assistance in adopting CSA practices from Eocene, Ducks Unlimited and Millborn Seeds. Financial training will be provided by Farm Credit Council.

5. Eocene captures data regarding impact of CSA practices through the Pork Cares Farm Impact Reports (all data remains with the producer and is kept secure).

Request a Pork Cares Farm Impact Report for your farm to get started.

Grant Practice Summaries

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Manure Management: pump more than once per year
Definition

Second pumping of agitated slurry from manure storage structure.

What is covered?

The grant will provide financial incentives for pork producers who pump more than one time per year and applied to fields, either via injection or dragline.

This includes paying for the service or owning the equipment to do it yourself.

What standards do I need to follow?

NRCS Practice Standard 590, 634

What is the sustainability benefit?

Research and modeling has shown that pumping manure from these manure storage systems from once to twice per year can reduce greenhouse gas emissions through decreased storage time.

Evidence base

Carbon Footprint and the Frequency of Manure Removal | Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Agriculture and Natural Resources

Practices to Reduce Methane Emissions from Livestock Manure Management | U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Carbon footprint calculator IPCC Tier2 MCF

Financial incentive

The grant will pay 1.25 cents per gallon for manure pumped from an agitated slurry manure storage structure a second time within a 12 month period for five years (a total of 5 additional pumping). The grant will cover up to 1 million gallons of the second pumping. The total financial incentive would therefore be up to $12,500 per year.

Comparisons

NRCS average payment n/a

Average cost to producer $.02/gallon

Practice enrollment and reimbursement timeline

Producers will enroll in the practice after completion of the Pork Cares Farm Impact Report. Producers will submit recipients and evidence of pumping, following the second pumping to receive reimbursement.

Implementation of the second pumping is expected within the calendar year (December), post-harvest to enable recovery over winter.

Depending on the operation (for example no-till cover), a second pumping may be made in April/May if not done post-harvest as there is more resilience in the soil.

This is dependent on the workload and condition of soil in spring to avoid compaction.

Re-enrollment eligibility

Re-enroll each year, up to 5 years.

Verification process and documentation

The verification process will be specific to each producer’s situation, whether they own pumping and application equipment on their own, rent equipment, or hire a contractor.

In general, verification will include:

Pumping (choice of)

  • Flow meter readings
  • Application map

Application (choice of)

  • Precision farming records
  • Nutrient management records
  • Receipt of hire of contractor
  • Time stamp of when hauled

If using own equipment, Ducks Unlimited may conduct spot checks of self-certification.

Total impact

Over the five years of the grant program, this practice is expected to result in the adoption of second pumping of manure in relation to:

  • 720 of producers
  • 180,000 of acres
  • $9,000,000 to producers
  • 139,937,507 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions
Energy Saving Lighting (LED Lights)
What is covered?

The grant will provide financial incentives for pork producers who replace traditional lighting with LED lighting in pig units.

What NRCS practice standards do I need to follow?

NRCS Practice Standard 670

What is sustainability benefit?

Reduced energy costs (versus fluorescent or halogen lights)

Increased animal productivity

Evidence base

Lighting for Pig Units | The Pig Site

Lighting for Pig Buildings | AHDB

Financial incentive

The grant will reimburse producers for 80% of the cost of a one-time replacement of traditional lighting with LED lighting in pig units.

Comparisons

NRCS Average payment n/a

Practice enrollment and reimbursement timeline

Producers will enroll in the practice after completion of the Pork Cares Farm Impact Report. They will be reimbursed after verification of the practice.

Re-enrollment eligibility

1x change over 5 years (per barn)

Verification process and documentation

Verification will include receipts for LED lighting purchased, photos of installation, and copies of energy bills to show difference pre- and post- installation.

Total impact

Over the five years of the grant program, this practice is expected to result in the replacement of traditional lighting with LED lighting in barns in relation to:

  • 902 of producers
  • 1,353,000 of barns
  • $2,802,694 to producers
  • 2345.2 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions
Buffer Plantings
What is covered?

The grant will provide financial incentives for producers who plan:

  • edge of field buffers
  • native perennial grass buffers (3 native seed mix minimum)

50 ft minimum to 150 ft max.

As buffers take three years to establish, producers are expected to commit to 10 years.

What NRCS practice standards do I need to follow?

NRCS practice standard 386

What is sustainability benefit?
  • Reduce erosion from wind and water and reduce excessive sediment to surface waters (soil erosion).
  • Reduce sedimentation offsite and protect water quality and nutrients in surface and ground waters (water quality degradation).
  • Provide food and cover for wildlife and pollinators or other beneficial organisms (inadequate habitat for fish and wildlife).
  • Reduce greenhouse gases and increase carbon storage (air quality impact).
  • Reduce emissions of particulate matter (air quality impact).
Evidence base

Conservation Practice Impact on Carbon Sequestration

Financial incentive

The grant will pay $500 per acre for traditionally not underserved producers and $600 per acre for underserved producers as defined by USDA. This is a one-time payment that requires producers to commit to leaving buffers in for ten years.

Comparisons

NRCS Average payment n/a

Practice enrollment and reimbursement timeline

Producers will enroll in the practice after completion of the Pork Cares Farm Impact Report. They will be reimbursed after verification of the practice.

Implementation is expected post-harvest with dormant seeding during the winter window (December – to late spring) to prompt payment.

Re-enrollment eligibility

The grant requires a 10-year commitment. Payment will be made 1x/year for new acres planted.

Verification process and documentation

Verification will include receipt of seed purchased, seed tag and planting photos from producers, and aerial imagery of planted crop.

Ducks Unlimited may conduct site visits to verify implementation with producer permission to take photos as evidence.

Engineer design plan desirable.

Total Impact

Over the five years of the grant program, this practice is expected to result in the adoption of edge of field and/or perennial grass buffer planting in relation to (for each practice):

  • 1250 of producers
  • 1250 of acres
  • $750,000 to producers
  • 1562.5 metric tons greenhouse gas missions
Cover Crop Plantings
What is covered?

The grant will provide financial incentives for producers who plant a three to five multi-species cover crop mix.

At least a three species mix agreed by the team, using a preferred method, must be used on eligible acres.

What NRCS practice standards do I need to follow?

NRCS practice standard 340

What is sustainability benefit?

With cover crops, farmers can:

  • Improve soil health and permeability
  • Reduce erosion
  • Increase drought resistance and improve water quality
  • Lower input costs
  • Reduce nutrient loss
Evidence base

Benefits of Cover Crops | Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education

Financial incentive

The grant will pay $40 per acre per year for traditionally not underserved producers and $50 per acre per year for underserved producers, as defined by USDA.

Cost share will be provided in years one to three with continued technical support for years four and five of grant participation.

Incentives will be the same across each state as species costs are relatively the same.

Comparisons

NRCS average payment $44 to $62.23 per acre

Practice enrollment and reimbursement timeline

Producers will enroll in the practice after completion of the Pork Cares Farm Impact Report. They will be reimbursed after verification of the practice.

It is expected implementation will be post-harvest with payment made once seed is in the ground (likely October/ November of each year).

Re-enrollment eligibility

The grant requires a five-year commitment. Payment will be made one time per year for years one to three.

Verification process and documentation

Verification will include receipt of seed purchased, seed tag and planting photos from producers, and aerial imagery of planted crop.

Ducks Unlimited may conduct site visits.

Total impact

Over the five years of the grant program, this practice is expected to result in the adoption of cover crop planting in relation to:

  • 254 producers
  • 127,000 of acres
  • $6,350,000 to producers
  • 27,940 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions
Livestock Integration
What is covered?

The grant will provide financial incentives for producers who install temporary fencing (that is movable or removable and not permanent) to allow grazing livestock on cover crops. Any fencing subject to a NEPA review is not included.

What NRCS practice standards do I need to follow?

NRCS practice standard 382, 614, 516

What is sustainability benefit?
  • increased soil fertility
  • reduced weed pressure
  • overall increase in soil health from the synergy from adding livestock and a polyculture of plant species back into the soil
Evidence base

Integrating Covers, Livestock is a Profit Opportunity

Financial incentive

The grant will pay 60% of the cost of installing temporary fencing with a maximum of $200,000 per year.

Comparisons

NRCS average payment fence line $0.50 to $2 per foot

Practice enrollment and reimbursement timeline

Producers will enroll in the practice after completion of the Pork Cares Farm Impact Report.

They will be reimbursed after verification of the practice once per year.

It is expected most implementation would happen post-harvest with cover crop seeding in late winter/early spring. Variability dependent.

Re-enrollment eligibility

The grant requires a five-year commitment. (Payment to be received once a year for all five years for any new temporary fencing added each year.)

Verification process and documentation

Verification will include:

  • receipts for supplies and /or installation of temporary fence, on a linear footage cost basis
  • grazing management plan, including dates of livestock grazing

Ducks Unlimited will provide an onsite inspection against NRCS practices standards 382. With permission of the producer, they will take photographic evidence for verification.

Total impact

Over the five years of the grant program, this practice is expected to result in adoption of livestock integration in relation to:

  • 40 producers
  • 4,000 of acres
  • $1,000,000 to producers
  • 4,233.6 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions
Conservation Tillage (no-till)
What is covered?

The grant will provide financial incentives for producers who adopt no-till practices (planting directly into the undisturbed residue of the previous crop without tillage, except for nutrient injection) on new acres.

What NRCS practice standards do I need to follow?

NRCS practice standard 329: residue and tillage management, no till

What is sustainability benefit?

With no-till practices, farmers can:

  • Reduce sheet, rill and wind erosion and excessive sediment in surface waters
  • Reduce tillage-induced particulate emissions
  • Maintain or increase soil health and organic matter content
  • Increase plant-available moisture
  • Reduce energy use
  • Provide food and escape cover for wildlife
Evidence base

No-Till Farming Improves Soil Health and Mitigates Climate Change

Financial incentive

$10 per acre per year for cropland new to no-till practices

or

$6 per acre per year for early adopters (early adopters must already be utilizing manure management in order to qualify)

Price comparisons

NRCS average payment $21 per acre

Practice enrollment and reimbursement timeline

Producers will enroll in the practice after completion of the Pork Cares Farm Impact Report. They will be reimbursed after verification of the practice.

Re-enrollment eligibility

The grant requires a five-year commitment. (Payment to be received once per year for all five years.)

Verification process and documentation

Verification will include nutrient management plans and imagery of fields.

Early adopters must self-certify they are not already getting paid for no-till. Random checks of self-certification will be made by grant partners.

Total impact

Over the five years of the grant program, this practice is expected to result in adoption of no-till practices in relation to:

  • 500 producers
  • 250,000 acres
  • $2,500,000 to producers
  • 75,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions

FAQs

Manure Management

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What is entailed in the double pumping practice?

This practice entails a second pumping of agitated slurry from a manure storage structure within 12 months. 

Can manure be applied via drag line instead of hauling?

Yes. Both are eligible under the second pumping practice. 

Can I pump to another storage facility and still be eligible?

No, the grant requires pumping from a manure storage structure to a field, as the climate-smart benefit comes from the manure being held in the soil. 

What if a grower has not consistently done a second pumping over the years?

New is defined as implementation ‘within the last two years’ or never before on acres/ in barns that historically have not been engaged with CSC practices. CSC practices can be stacked but not double counted with other federal programs. This grant is focused on helping the early majority invest and take up CSC practices. We want to recognize the good work of innovators and early adopters through being able to show the added value within the market place through increased data from the increase of acres/ barns within the NPB Pork Cares Farm Impact reports on national and state level. USDA is still providing further guidance on this issue. 

If a producer applied spring manure in 2022 and the five consecutive years after, will they receive payments for all five years?

The grant program goal is to incent consistency in pumping more than once per 12 months, so program participants will be eligible for payments each of the five years, which could total $62,500Producers who applied manure in 2022 are eligible under the definition of “new.”   

Who receives payment, the manure supplier, field owner, or manure applicator?

If not one in the same, the producer of the manure is the eligible candidate for the grant financial assistance. 

Energy Saving Lighting

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Can LED lights installed in other farm buildings be included in the grant?

In this grant, implementation costs will only be covered for new LED lights installed in barns that house pigs. However, you may be able to receive a discount for buying in bulk to reduce the cost for installation in other buildings.

Does this grant cover replacement of existing LED lights or only conversion from traditional fixtures to LED lighting?

In this grant, implementation costs will only be covered for new LED lights that are replacing current fixtures such as incandescent, halogen, HID, or T12 fluorescent. However, you may be able to receive a discount for buying in bulk to reduce the cost of replacement LED lights. 

Buffer Planting

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How long are producers required to keep buffer plantings in place?

The grant program requires buffer plantings to remain in place for 10 years to ensure the greenhouse gas benefits are realized. 

So I’m locked into a 10 year contract?

The grant contract for planting buffers is five years but we are asking for your commitment for the full length of the practice lifespan (10 years). 

Cover Crop Planting

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Will cover crops planted in fall 2022 be retroactively covered?

Yes, if they are new acres put into cover cropping. There is a two-year lookback in terms of defining new acres. 

Will this year’s cover crop seed be eligible for reimbursement, even if I have been planting cover crops for five years?

No. This program is designed to encourage the implementation of new climate smart practices on operations.  

Why is the per-acre payment for cover crops per acre lower than EQIP or other programs?

The goal of the program is to provide competitive opportunities, but is not focused on being the leading opportunity for cover crops.  The Advancing U.S. Pork Sustainability grant is unique because it provides a number of benefits to producers, including completion of the Pork Cares Farm Impact report to identify and provide support for multiple practicesThe grant is focused on supporting long term sustainability of the pork industry and feed supply and providing baseline reports to demonstrate the industry’s progress.  

If I commit 200 acres of my 800 total acres to cover crops, do I have to plant cover crops on the same 200 acres each year or can it be just 200 acres across the entire operation?

Farmers will be able to decide where it fits best, as a running balance, especially with manure application schedules.  

For example, if committing 60 acres each year, you will get paid for 180 acres in first three years (could be 40 acres one year, then balance out to 80 the next year), committed to up to 120 acres in year four and five.

What defines new? What’s stopping someone from ripping out cover crops for a year to qualify?

This is defined as a minimum of two years/two rotations without cover crop on that acre. USDA will be able to look back on previous years to determine what was standard practice on your farm.  

Do cover crops have to overwinter?

No. Cover crops should be applied based on what works for your operation, in line with NRCS standards.

Will I get paid every year of planting for 5 years?

Planting is required for five years. Plan is to pay $40/$50 per acre for the first three years. In years four and five, technical assistance will still be provided

How many acres can I enroll?

Minimum of 100 acres operated, or 50% of acre total. Maximum of 1,000. 

Livestock Integration

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What livestock are eligible within the livestock Integration practice?

Any livestock integration will be accepted in the program. Cattle are expected to be the primary livestock, with equine eligible as well. 

How long do livestock have to be on the acres to be considered integrated?

All practices must follow NRCS standard guidelines.

Conservation Tillage

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Why is no till only covered instead of reduced / strip till?

The project team reviewed a long list of current climate-smart practices and chose a select few with strong evidence for return on investment. Therefore no-till has been included, as the practice provides more sustainable benefits than reduced till.