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Sand County Foundation Receives Grant to Accelerate the Adoption of Regenerative Agriculture

MADISON, Wis. -- The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation has awarded Sand County Foundation a three-year grant to accelerate the adoption of regenerative agriculture among private landowners in Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan watershed.

Sand County Foundation’s project will work with farmers to generate whole-farm conservation plans and outcome metrics in order to quantify the benefit 15,000 acres of new regenerative agriculture practices can have on water quality and biodiversity.

The project titled, “Fostering Technical Assistance to Advance Regenerative Agriculture in the Lake Michigan Basin” was awarded $300,000 through NFWF’s Sustain Our Great Lakes Program (SOGL), with support from General Mills and USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). This project is supported by a public-private partnership between General Mills, NRCS and NFWF and is designed to sustain, restore and protect fish, wildlife and habitat by leveraging funding, building conservation capacity, and focusing partners and resources toward key ecological issues utilizing the leveraged resources.

The grant to Sand County Foundation, a national agricultural conservation non-profit, is one of 35 funded projects this year. The funds are matched by $300,000 in contributions raised by Sand County Foundation.

“A performance-based conservation incentive system that is based on measured environmental outcomes and promoted by farmer-led watershed groups, can accelerate adoption of regenerative agriculture while leveraging conservation funding for farmers,” said Dr. Heidi Peterson, Sand County Foundation’s Vice President of Agricultural Conservation and Research.

“Farmers across the Lake Michigan basin are interested in regenerative agriculture management,” Peterson explained, “but, rightly, they are uncertain of the risks and benefits of integrating new practices.”

Through the SOGL program, the NFWF-General Mills partnership supports the hiring of field conservation professionals who will work directly with landowners to develop and implement planning and stewardship actions that generate economic benefits for farmers alongside positive environmental outcomes. Locally-led programs will offer assistance that is adaptable to each farmer’s unique goals, experience, risk tolerance, and other considerations on their path to a regenerative system.

“Our partnership with General Mills represents an extraordinary opportunity to integrate agricultural production with wildlife conservation at a significant scale,” said Jeff Trandahl, Executive Director and CEO of NFWF. “By accelerating adoption of regenerative agriculture, the partnership will deliver important benefits for habitat, water resources, and farmers’ and ranchers’ bottom lines in two important areas of the Midwest.”

“We’re proud to partner with NFWF to provide grant recipients, like Sand County Foundation, with resourcing to accelerate the regenerative agriculture movement, said Mary Jane Melendez, chief sustainability and global impact officer for General Mills. “The Great Lakes Basin is a key sourcing region for General Mills. Through support from Sand County Foundation, farmers will get technical and coaching support from conservation professionals and receive incentives for generating water quality improvements. By enabling greater local impact, this work has the opportunity to ensure a thriving future for both people and the planet.”

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Sand County Foundation inspires and empowers a growing number of private landowners to ethically manage natural resources in their care, so future generations have clean and abundant water, healthy soil to support agriculture and forestry, plentiful habitat for wildlife and opportunities for outdoor recreation.


Chartered by Congress in 1984, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) protects and restores the nation’s fish, wildlife, plants and habitats. Working with federal, corporate and individual partners, NFWF has funded more than 5,000 organizations and generated a total conservation impact of $6.8 billion. Learn more at


General Mills makes food the world loves. The company is guided by its Accelerate strategy to drive shareholder value by boldly buildings its brands, relentlessly innovating, unleashing its scale and being a force for good. Its portfolio of beloved brands includes household names such as Cheerios, Nature Valley Blue Buffalo, Häagen-Dazs, Old El Paso, Pillsbury, Betty Crocker, Yoplait, Annie's, Wanchai Ferry, Yoki and more. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USDA, General Mills generated fiscal 2021 net sales of U.S. $18.1 billion. In addition, General Mills’ share of non-consolidated joint venture net sales totaled U.S. $1.1 billion.