Midwest Row Crop Collaborative receives $1.6 million HSBC Bank USA grant to help build a more resilient U.S. food system

Projects will support adoption of regenerative agriculture practices by U.S. farmers on more than 150,000 acres

(New York and Minneapolis, Minn., May 20, 2021)—HSBC Bank USA, N.A., (HSBC) and the Midwest Row Crop Collaborative (MRCC) announced that HSBC has made a $1.6 million grant to MRCC to accelerate conservation and the adoption of regenerative practices such as cover crops, nutrient management, reduced tillage, and prairie strips on large-scale farms in MRCC’s collaborative projects.

Nature-based Solutions for Catalyzing a More Resilient U.S. Food System is the only U.S.-based project included as part of the Climate Solutions Partnership, which HSBC announced today. The Partnership aims to address barriers to scaling sustainable projects and to bring climate solutions to commercial viability, while also delivering for people and nature. Together with partners World Resources Institute (WRI) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the global initiative is backed by $100 million of philanthropic funding from HSBC over five years.

The U.S.-based work, driven by MRCC members Kellogg Company, PepsiCo, and The Nature Conservancy partnering with members Unilever and Cargill, is made possible through direct relationships with row crop farmers, in a region where row crops account for 75 percent of agricultural land. As farmers depend on healthy soil and water resources, which are being depleted rapidly, the benefits of regenerative practice adoption can offer a lifeline for individual farms over the long term. These practices protect against the flooding and erosion impacts of increasingly extreme weather, improve crop yields, and reduce production costs. “We had gullies and water collecting across parts of our land for some time, which prevented crops from being able to grow,” said Carter Morgan, a farmer participating in the Saving Tomorrow’s Agriculture Resources (STAR) initiative of Georgetown, Illinois. “Once we eliminated tillage and implemented cover crops, we got erosion under control, soil health improved, and our herbicide use went way down.”

The Climate Solutions Partnership is part of HSBC’s ambitious climate strategy. HSBC aims to align its provision of financing to net zero by 2050 or sooner, in line with the Paris Agreement goals, and to work across the financial sector and beyond to accelerate solutions that increase the pace of change.

The Partnership seeks to remove barriers and create incentives in three areas: energy transition, business innovation, and nature-based solutions. MRCC is part of the focus on nature-based solutions and will be one of 20 projects globally to protect and revitalize wetlands, mangroves and forests, and to promote sustainable agriculture. Working with a network of local partners, these projects will contribute to net-zero goals by capturing CO2 while increasing social and environmental resilience.

“HSBC’s new global Climate Solutions Partnership is about investing in tangible, high-potential methods to attack climate change, and there were no other efforts in the US that impressed us as much as the work being done by MRCC,” said Kelly Fisher, Head of Corporate Sustainability, HSBC USA. “These regenerative agriculture practices will help farmers to keep producing food in a meaningful and sustainable way long into the future.”

“Soil health is vital for both a healthy natural ecosystem and a healthy agricultural system that supports farm families and production of the food we eat. We are honored that our unique collaborative has been selected to advance the important work of restoring and maintaining soil health by building on our portfolio of projects across the Midwest.” said Margaret Henry, PepsiCo’s Director, Sustainable Agriculture.

Focused on Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, and Nebraska, the projects will expand practices that are transferrable to other growing regions in the Midwest, the U.S., and around the globe. Benefits of the work will be measured in multiple ways: reduced carbon emissions, improved water quality and biodiversity, enhanced food security by reducing soil loss, and improved farm profitability.

  • In Iowa and Nebraska, this grant will build on existing projects being implemented by Practical Farmers of Iowa to support expanding cover crops and introducing small grains to provide continuous living cover that protects and enhances soil health.
  • In Illinois, the Precision Conservation Management program implemented by the Illinois Corn Growers Association will be replicated in an entirely new region, expanding its impact to 100 additional farms over four years. A pay-for-performance model to provide growers conservation practice adoption incentives by utilizing the STAR initiative will also be implemented in Illinois.
  • In Michigan, MRCC will develop a sustainably grown grain pilot program that can be incorporated into supply partners’ buying frameworks, with the potential to link conservation incentives to the point of sale. Carrie Vollmer-Sanders, farmer, Agriculture Engagement Strategy Director at The Nature Conservancy, and MRCC co-chair offers that “on-farm practices benefitting the environment and society without a visible financial payoff for 3-5 years are difficult practices to embrace. This grant will allow us to prove out the financial benefit and break down some of the barriers to adopting regenerative practices.”

A unique aspect of the Climate Solutions Partnership will be the creation of a Nature-based Solutions Accelerator, facilitated by global partners WRI and WWF, which will highlight meaningful innovations, including MRCC’s work in Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, and Nebraska.

Another unique aspect is that, during the four-year grant term, participating projects may draw upon additional expertise from other MRCC members, including Bayer, Environmental Defense Fund, Walmart, and WWF. MRCC members represent distinct roles in the food and agriculture value chain, which creates an opportunity to drive collective action and remove barriers for systemic change to improve food system health, environmental outcomes, and the well-being of farmers.

“We firmly believe that partnering with farmers – with support from trusted networks, technical assistance, and funding partnerships to weather their first few years of transition to regenerative practices – is an investment in healthy soils that are the foundation for a resilient future for Midwest agriculture,” said Kate Schaffner, Global Sustainability Manager, Kellogg Company. “We‘re proud to continue our long-standing partnership with MRCC and this important work as it supports Kellogg’s Better Days commitment to support one million farmers by the end of 2030.”

Fourth generation wheat farmer Mike Milligan, a participant in Kellogg’s and The Nature Conservancy’s project in the Saginaw Bay region of Michigan, echoes the same sentiment, saying “we are here to build something longer term than one lifespan.”


Media Contacts

MRCC: Deborah Carter McCoy, 651-707-6254, dcartermccoy@en-in.org
HSBC: Rob Sherman, 646-939-6998[email protected]

Midwest Row Crop Collaborative

Administered by Environmental Initiative, the Midwest Row Crop Collaborative explores new approaches to agricultural challenges to find solutions that increase productivity while ensuring soil health, protecting water, addressing the factors contributing to climate change, and supporting farm families. Members include Bayer, Cargill, Environmental Defense Fund, Kellogg Company, PepsiCo, The Nature Conservancy, Unilever, Walmart, and World Wildlife Fund.


HSBC Bank USA, National Association (HSBC Bank USA, N.A.) serves customers through retail banking and wealth management, commercial banking, private banking, and global banking and markets segments. It operates bank branches in: California; Washington, D.C.; Florida; Maryland; New Jersey; New York; Pennsylvania; Virginia; and Washington. HSBC Bank USA, N.A. is the principal subsidiary of HSBC USA Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of HSBC North America Holdings Inc. In the United States, deposit products are offered by HSBC Bank USA, N.A., Member FDIC, investment and brokerage services are provided through HSBC Securities (USA) Inc., (Member NYSE/FINRA/SIPC) and insurance products are provided through HSBC Insurance Agency (USA) Inc.

HSBC Holdings plc, the parent company of the HSBC Group, is headquartered in London. HSBC serves customers worldwide from offices in 64 countries and territories in its geographical regions: Europe, Asia, North America, Latin America, and Middle East and North Africa. With assets of $2,959bn at 31 March 2021, HSBC is one of the world’s largest banking and financial services organizations.

Back to News & Press