Global agribusiness giant Cargill has joined an alliance with organic research organisation Rodale Institute and chicken producer Bell & Evans to increase US production of certified-organic corn and soyabeans, the company announced on 9 February.

The growth of Bell & Evans’ organic chicken business had led to an increased need for US grown organic-certified corn and soyabeans for use in its organic chicken feed, the statement said. As a result, the family-owned producer had entered into a sourcing agreement with Cargill to exclusively secure its organic grain and increase domestic organic grain supply.

Under the agreement, Cargill would encourage US farmers to convert land from conventional to organic management through subsidised organic crop consulting services provided by the Rodale Institute.

The aim of the Bell & Evans Organic Grain Initiative was to convert 20,234 ha (50,000 acres) of US corn and soyabean farmland to certified organic production over the next five years.

Under the initiative, contracted growers would receive customised support to help them through the conversion, including on-farm consultation, organic system planning, certification assistance, crop rotation planning and inspection preparation.

Cargill would offer market access for transition crops while farmers would be guaranteed a market for their certified organic grains through Bell & Evans.

“We’re proud to partner with Bell & Evans and Rodale Institute to offer an innovative sourcing solution that not only helps to support their projected growth, but also can remove the barriers for farmers in their transition to organic and access to speciality grain markets,” said Jeff Vassart, managing director for Cargill’s agricultural supply chain in North America.