Growing a sustainable future
How McCain works with growers, creating positive change through Regenerative agriculture
Potato growers face many challenges each year such as rising input costs, regulatory uncertainty and climate change. As a global leader in prepared food products, McCain takes the opportunity to tackle these challenges, innovate farming practices and create positive change for people, growers and the planet – all through Regenerative ag.
As defined by McCain, Regenerative agriculture is “an ecosystem-based approach to farming that aims to improve farmer resilience, yield and quality by improving soil health, enhancing biodiversity and reducing the impact of synthetic inputs.”
Daniel Metheringham, Vice President of Agriculture and Sustainability at McCain, has a passion for the potato industry.
“For me, sustainability is about assured supply and how we can change practices and behaviors to ensure a consistent supply,” Metheringham said. “The framework that McCain has rolled out is all about soil health and allowing the soil to bounce back as a result of extreme weather conditions. We’re working in partnership with our McCain farmers to understand the local challenges facing growers and the crop, to get the right tools in their hands to best manage their farms.”
McCain’s commitments to Regenerative agriculture:
- The Onboarding level of Regenerative agricultural practices will reach 100% of McCain potato acres by 2030.
- Reaching ‘Beginner level’ for Regenerative agricultural practices across 50% of McCain potato acres by 2030.
- Operating three Farms of the Future by 2025, dedicated to developing regenerative agriculture practices and transferring this knowledge to growers.
- Developing research partnerships and leveraging collective action to advance Regenerative agriculture.
McCain has built the Regenerative Agriculture Framework as a guide for growers, tracking their progression. According to McCain, the Framework provides the measurement criteria for the achievement of (Regenerative) goals across various levels including Onboarding, Beginner, Master and Expert based upon data.
While this is considered a global framework, McCain works closely with their farmers – discovering what works best for their farms and makes the most economical and agronomical sense for individual regions.
Working side-by-side with farmers for generations, McCain supports participants of the program through status mapping and regional action plans, training, research and development, data collection and measurement and financial partnerships.
The Farms of the Future project is the backbone of this effort. Now into the third growing season at Farm of the Future Canada — located in McCain’s hometown of Florenceville, NB — McCain has learned that it can maintain crop quality while reducing agro-chemical inputs, and has seen positive results from implementing practices such as fall bedding and controlled traffic farming to reduce tillage and improve soil health.
Supporting the Farms of the Future are McCain’s Innovation Hub farms, launched in partnership with local farmers to trial priority Regenerative agricultural practices. McCain has established these learning hubs in Washington, Idaho and Manitoba this year, with more to come in future years.
What McCain has learned so far at the Farm of the Future and at its Innovation Hubs has reinforced its confidence in Regenerative agriculture as a pathway to mitigate climate change.
McCain also recognizes that changing farming practices does come with a cost to farmers. A partnership with McDonald’s Canada offers Canadian potato farmers cost-sharing grants for implementing Regenerative practices and technology.
A program through Farm Credit Canada has also been made available to McCain’s Canadian potato farmers. This Regenerative Agriculture Incentive Program offers interest rate rebates to farmers who have at least reached the Onboarding stage of the Regenerative Agricultural Framework. According to Metheringham, the framework allows McCain to recognize the great work farmers are already carrying out on their farms but also ensures growers are actively building plans to advance against the framework – ultimately creating a successful pathway for growers and better soil health for generations to come.
“I really like the relationships that (McCain) builds with farmers,” Metheringham said. “We’re ensuring we are telling a shared, positive story on all things potato. McCain wants to understand the regional challenges to then offer tools to the grower, guiding them to success, so we can own that story together.”
© 2023 McCain To learn more about McCain visit www.mccain.com/sustainability/smart-sustainable-farming.