$19M in John Deere Foundation grants help eliminate global hunger

The John Deere Foundation is awarding a series of grants totaling $19 million aimed at eliminating hunger by increasing access to food, uplifting resource-constrained farmers, and supporting global food systems. 

Awarded to World Food Program USA, One Acre Fund, and The Nature Conservancy, the new grants were announced Thursday, Oct. 26, by Josh Jepsen, John Deere senior vice president and chief financial officer, at the World Food Prize Foundation’s Norman E. Borlaug International Dialogue in Des Moines. 

Josh Jepsen, John Deere senior vice president and chief financial officer.

The grants – the three largest in the foundation’s history – strengthen John Deere’s commitment to creating a world in which food is a moral right for all, the foundation said in a news release after the announcement.

“We believe firmly that the world’s farmers deserve our collective support and advocacy if our goal is to realize the full promise of the ‘Green Revolution,’” Mr. Jepsen said during his remarks.

“The private sector, including specifically those businesses involved in agriculture, have the responsibility to help close the gaps in investment. Guided by concepts such as ‘trust-based philanthropy,’ we can do better, particularly in honoring the work of nonprofit organizations serving marginalized growers capable of making leaps of their own.”

Here’s a look at the three grant awards: 

  • World Food Program USA was awarded $5 million to strengthen the capacity of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), the world’s largest humanitarian organization, to realize its vision of a world without hunger. In 2022, WFP reached an estimated 160 million people with vital food, cash, commodity vouchers, and other support, often during emergencies and within conflict zones. Through its Innovation Accelerator, WFP also invests in technology and digital transformation intended to eliminate the causes of hunger and improve WFP’s humanitarian responses.

“We thank our long-standing partner, the John Deere Foundation, for their transformational Investment,” Barron Segar, president and CEO of the WFP, said in the release from the Moline-based John Deere. “They have been committed to supporting WFP’s innovation and tackling the root causes of global hunger. Not only are they helping fund innovations, but they are lending their expertise and actively participating in co-creating solutions. Together, we’ll help make life better for millions of people.” 

  • One Acre Fund was awarded $7.5 million to accelerate its work to ensure that every farm family has the knowledge and means to achieve big harvests, support healthy families, and cultivate rich soil. In 2022, One Acre Fund served more than 4 million farmers through partnerships and its full-service programs, equipping farmers to achieve $316 million in new profits and assets.

“As a result of the John Deere Foundation’s grant, we will be able to support more than 750,000 farm families across sub-Saharan Africa over five years; unlocking nearly $65 million in new farmer profits and assets through increased food crop, cash crop, and agroforestry productivity,” Matthew Forti, One Acre Fund’s managing director, said in the release. “Our relationship with the John Deere Foundation allows us to provide farm families with pathways to prosperity and food security, while building needed climate and ecological resilience in the face of increasing challenges.”

  • The Nature Conservancy was awarded $6.5 million to promote natural climate solutions in key regions across the globe including funding forest restoration, conservation, and agroforestry projects in economically and environmentally vulnerable areas of Argentina, Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, and the United States. The projects will help improve land use practices, boost climate resilience, and increase productivity and profitability for marginalized and indigenous farm households living in these areas.

“Natural climate solutions unlock benefits for people, nature and agriculture by restoring soil health, increasing biodiversity, improving the water cycle and building climate resilience, however, they are often underfunded and underutilized,” said Michael Doane, global managing director for Food & Freshwater Systems at The Nature Conservancy. “This landmark grant will help The Nature Conservancy test natural climate solutions in food landscapes around the globe, improving the lives and livelihoods of farmers and illustrating the critical role of nature in sustainable food production.”

The capacity-building and operational grants help commemorate the 75th anniversary of the foundation, which remains a powerful source of philanthropy for nonprofit organizations in John Deere’s home communities and in farm communities around the globe. 

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