Majority of farmers who participated in groundbreaking farm loan achieved environmental standards and received interest rate rebates
EDF and FBN report found that 83% of farmers who completed program requirements successfully met climate and water quality goals, while maintaining yields
(CHICAGO, IL) One year after launching one of the first farm financing programs in the United States that rewards environmental stewardship, Environmental Defense Fund and Farmers Business Network today announced that 83% of participating farmers who completed program requirements met environmental standards for fertilizer efficiency and soil health practices, while also meeting or exceeding national crop yield benchmarks. Farmers who met the standards received a 0.5% interest rate rebate.
The $25-million pilot of FBN’s Regenerative Agriculture Financing program, or RAF, was quickly oversubscribed with 48 grain farmers enrolled across 18 states. The company doubled the program to $50 million in operating lines for the 2023 growing season and anticipates originating up to $1 billion in climate-smart operating loans over the next five years.
“This loan demonstrates an investment approach that has the potential to be scaled to millions of acres and replicated by the wider agricultural finance sector,” said Maggie Monast, senior director for Climate-Smart Agriculture at EDF. “The first-year results show the value of linking environmental performance, financial rewards and robust scientific measurement. It’s a win for farmers, investors and the planet.”
“With a technology-enabled pathway for credit approval, loan services and conservation practice verification, the Regenerative Agriculture Financing program was the fastest-selling financial product ever launched by Farmers Business Network. It also provides a new way for farmers to achieve sustainability and profitability goals simultaneously," said Devin Lammers, president of Farmers Business Network Financial. "Innovations like the Regenerative Agriculture Financing program paint a picture of how the future of production agriculture could look for farmers and their financial service providers."
By aligning farm financing with regenerative farming practices, RAF is paving the way for a sustainable future for farmers and the environment. Additional highlights from the pilot year include:
- Data was collected from 42,000 acres, and RAF farmers achieved average crop yields equal to or greater than national averages for corn, soybeans and wheat.
- Both farmers who are early adopters and new adopters of regenerative practices were eligible to participate.
- Farmers who secured the rebate demonstrated that they applied nitrogen at levels that minimize risk of loss to the air and water. Over the next three years, EDF and FBN will use aggregated farm-level nitrogen data to calculate changes in nitrous oxide emissions, a potent greenhouse gas, and nitrate, a prevalent water contaminant, across the RAF portfolio.
The report also includes farmer experiences with the program.
Rusty Olson, a crop farmer running a diverse operation in Garner, Iowa, states, “The process to apply for the RAF program was straightforward and simple. I’m also a numbers guy, so I appreciate being able to immediately see that I’m saving money. The RAF program makes it clear to see the financial benefits.”
A global survey conducted by EDF and Deloitte in 2022 revealed that 59% of agricultural lenders expect climate change-driven business opportunities, including increased demand for new financial products and services. The success of the RAF program’s pilot year is further evidence of farmer demand for such financial products linked to environmental performance.
For more information, see our new report.
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One of the world’s leading international nonprofit organizations, Environmental Defense Fund (edf.org) creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. To do so, EDF links science, economics, law, and innovative private-sector partnerships. With more than 3 million members and offices in the United States, China, Mexico, Indonesia and the European Union, EDF’s scientists, economists, attorneys and policy experts are working in 28 countries to turn our solutions into action. Connect with us on Twitter @EnvDefenseFund