CENTRAL ILLINOIS (WCIA) — If a farmer could get a higher price for grain grown with specific agronomic practices, would he do it? That’s the basis for a proposal called “AgPrices,” Lauren Lurkins of Illinois Farm Bureau said.

“Our component is where Illinois Farm Bureau, our IAA Foundation, GROWMARK and three of their retail grain units, including FS Grain, Western Grain Marketing and Total Grain Marketing, would all work together with a couple other partners and really test out a mechanism where a premium would be paid on the bushel on delivery for grain that is grown with climate smart practices like cover crops, nitrogen management and no-till,” Lurkins said. “The concept is really using technology to attach practice information with the bushels of grain.”

So if a farmer were using cover crops, they might get an extra nickel or a dime. If they were doing two or three things, they might get 15 cents or a quarter.

“Yes, so it could be one or a combination of those practices,” Lurkins said. “We do have the role of the University involved, which is critical to make that proposal very competitive with a lot of other people who are seeking to access the funding. And the role of the University would be on the economic side to do that premium discovery, what is the right amount of money, and then on the back end too to test the supply chain to see the willingness to pay more for the grain exists, either within the supply chain or within the consumer base.”

And she said there is a lot of political support for this idea.

“In addition to our named partners that are in an active role in this proposal, we also saw an extreme amount of support from a variety of entities, including members of Congress here in Illinois, both sides of the aisle, both chambers,” Lurkins said. “That’s outstanding and it says quite a lot about what we are envisioning. We also had companies that are either current or potential customers of GROWMARK to buy that grain who are saying ‘Yeah, I would be part of this project.’ We had our Illinois Department of Ag and Illinois EPA and a couple of others, but those are the big ones and we want to make sure that their support of us goes a very long way and we are very grateful.”

Announcements of funding are expected by fall.