The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) last week launched a partnership that aims to address how to improve environmental outcomes while optimizing productivity and profitability.

“The public expects greater stewardship and transparency from farmers, and it’s critical for the agricultural sector to show leadership on conservation,” said Nathan Fields, vice president of production and sustainability at NCGA. “EDF and NCGA are stronger together. We have different expertise and perspectives, and combining them is a real opportunity.”

Many practices that increase soil health and water quality also boost farmers’ bottom lines, said Suzy Friedman, senior director of agricultural sustainability at EDF. “EDF and NCGA have worked together for many years to align economic incentives and environmental outcomes. Formalizing our partnership was a natural next step to accelerate progress toward our shared goals.”

The partnership will elevate the importance of continuous improvements for water quality and climate resilience, while strengthening yields and profitability. Priority work includes:

• Data and measurement to improve tracking of water quality, soil health and greenhouse gas emissions, and scaling user-friendly technology solutions for data reporting and analysis.

• On-farm engagement to increase farmer and agronomist knowledge about innovative conservation tools and practices.

• Policy advocacy to support voluntary, incentive-based conservation programs with measurable outcomes.

• Finance and economics to explore and grow opportunities for farmers to benefit economically from conservation practices such as cover crops and conservation tillage.

“Farming is a tough business with tight margins. Stewardship has always been a way of life for us, but we also have to stay profitable and productive. I’m excited to see what EDF and NCGA can accomplish together,” said Brandon Hunnicutt, Nebraska farmer and member of NCGA’s Corn Board.