Forever Green Initiative

Project Details by Fiscal Year
2021 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$2,000,000
2020 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$468,798
2019 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$562,320
2018 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$750,000
2016 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$292,460
Fund Source
Clean Water Fund
Recipient Type
Public College/University
Status
In Progress
Start Date
July 2016
End Date
June 2024
Activity Type
Demonstration/Pilot Project
Education/Outreach/Engagement
Research
Technical Assistance
Project Overview

Forever Green Initiative develops perennial and cover cropping systems specific to Minnesota that are necessary to protect and restore the state's surface and groundwater resources while increasing efficiency, profitability, and productivity of Minnesota farmers.

The Forever Green Initiative brings together researchers from multiple departments including plant breeding, agronomy, food science, and economics. The goal is to develop new high value commodity crops for conservation purposes. Many of these new crops could fit into a corn and soybean rotation by providing ground cover after harvest and before next spring's emergence. Winter annuals and cover crops grow between the time when annual crops are harvested in the fall and a new planting is established in the spring. This is the time when fields are bare, and most vulnerable to erosion and nutrient loss. In addition, perennials provide valuable groundcover and related environmental benefits throughout the year.

Current crop research includes: The Forever Green Initiative works on 13 different crops. Crops that are closest to market ready include Intermediate Wheatgrass (Kernza),Camelina (oil and protein), Hazelnuts (oil, protein, fresh nuts), Pennycress (oil and protein), Perennial flax (oil, protein, and ornamental hedge), and Elderberry. 

Clean Water funding supports Forever Green research, implementation, and program coordination. Funding for implementation and program coordination began in fiscal year 2020. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is currently working with the University of Minnesota-Forever Green team on workplans for these two new activities.

About the Issue

There is general agreement that increasing the adoption of vegetative cover (cover crops, winter annuals, and perennials) has the capacity to provide significant surface and ground water quality and climate change benefits, however there are still significant barriers. Specifically, winter hardy plant material and viable markets for these crops are not broadly available or they are not economically viable. Efforts of the Forever Green Initiative brings together research on crop development, agronomy, food science, environmental impact, commercialization, and market development to advance this next generation of crops.

Project Details

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) receives Clean Water Funds to support the Forever Green Agricultural Initiative at the University of Minnesota. All funding is passed through to the University of Minnesota. The MDA oversees the distribution of funds and coordinates reporting on progress results and outcomes.

Since 2016, there have been 37 projects funded. Research projects are selected through a request for proposal process administered by the University of Minnesota.

Legal Citation / Subdivision
Minnesota Session Laws - 2019, 1st Special Session, CHAPTER 2--S.F. No. 3, Article 2
Appropriation Language

M.L. 2019: (h) $2,300,000 the first year and $2,000,000 the second year are for grants to fund the Forever Green Agriculture Initiative and to protect the state's natural resources while increasing the efficiency, profitability, and productivity of Minnesota farmers by incorporating perennial and winter-annual crops into existing agricultural practices. Of this amount, $2,050,000 the first year and $1,750,000 the second year are for grants to the Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota for research and establishing an Agricultural Diversification Steering Council and Network and $250,000 the first year and $250,000 the second year are for grants to implement Forever Green crops or cropping systems. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2024.

2021 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$2,000,000
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)
  • Number of Forever Green Institute (FGI) projects funded
  • Number of FGI acres implemented
  • Number of FGI acres implemented in Drinking Water Supply Management Areas (DWSMAs)
  • Number of farmers growing Kernza
  • Pounds of MN-grown Kernza distributed to business
  • Number of Minnesota businesses who received Kernza (for market development)
  • Dollars leveraged (non-CWF funding including state federal, foundations, industry, and the U of M)
Legal Citation / Subdivision
Minnesota Session Laws - 2019, 1st Special Session, CHAPTER 2--S.F. No. 3, Article 2
Appropriation Language

M.L. 2019: (h) $2,300,000 the first year and $2,000,000 the second year are for grants to fund the Forever Green Agriculture Initiative and to protect the state's natural resources while increasing the efficiency, profitability, and productivity of Minnesota farmers by incorporating perennial and winter-annual crops into existing agricultural practices. Of this amount, $2,050,000 the first year and $1,750,000 the second year are for grants to the Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota for research and establishing an Agricultural Diversification Steering Council and Network and $250,000 the first year and $250,000 the second year are for grants to implement Forever Green crops or cropping systems. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2024.

2020 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$468,798
Other Funds Leveraged
$21,830,579
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)
  • Number of Forever Green Institute (FGI) projects funded
  • Number of FGI acres implemented
  • Number of FGI acres implemented in Drinking Water Supply Management Areas (DWSMAs)
  • Number of farmers growing Kernza
  • Pounds of MN-grown Kernza distributed to business
  • Number of Minnesota businesses who received Kernza (for market development)
  • Dollars leveraged (non-CWF funding including state federal, foundations, industry, and the U of M)
Measurable Outcome(s)

FY20-21 dollars supported thirteen projects which focus on incorporating perennial and winter annual crops into existing agricultural practices were selected through a request for proposal process administered by the University of Minnesota.

Additional project information for these thirteen projects and previous projects, can be found on the MDA's Forever Green website.

  • 1,162 acres are implemented (Kernza) (2019-2020)
  • 378 acres are implemented in DWSMAs (2019-2020)
  • 33 farmers are growing Kernza (2020)
  • 1,600 lbs of Kernza distributed to businesses in Minnesota, about 4,500 lbs nationwide (2019-2020)
  • 25 businesses have received Kernza for market development (2020)
  • $70,495,700 have been leveraged (2016-2020)
Legal Citation / Subdivision
M.L. 2017, Chapter 91, Article 2, Section 3
Appropriation Language

M.L. 2017: (i) $750,000 the first year and $750,000 the second year are for grants to the Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota to fund the Forever Green Agriculture Initiative and to protect the state's natural resources while increasing the efficiency, profitability, and productivity of Minnesota farmers by incorporating perennial and winter-annual crops into existing agricultural practices. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2022.

2019 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$562,320
Other Funds Leveraged
$31,523,832
Measurable Outcome(s)

FY18-19 dollars supported thirteen projects which focus on incorporating perennial and winter annual crops into existing agricultural practices were selected through a request for proposal process administered by the University of Minnesota.

Additional project information for these thirteen projects and previous projects, can be found on the MDA's Forever Green website.

Description of Funds
The Forever Green Initiative is supported by multiple sources including state and federal grants as well as investments from companies, foundations, and commodity groups.
Legal Citation / Subdivision
M.L. 2017, Chapter 91, Article 2, Section 3
Appropriation Language

M.L. 2017: (i) $750,000 the first year and $750,000 the second year are for grants to the Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota to fund the Forever Green Agriculture Initiative and to protect the state's natural resources while increasing the efficiency, profitability, and productivity of Minnesota farmers by incorporating perennial and winter-annual crops into existing agricultural practices. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2022.

2018 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$750,000
Other Funds Leveraged
$7,135,195
Measurable Outcome(s)

FY18-19 dollars supported thirteen projects which focus on incorporating perennial and winter annual crops into existing agricultural practices were selected through a request for proposal process administered by the University of Minnesota.

Additional project information for these thirteen projects and previous projects, can be found on the MDA's Forever Green website.

Description of Funds
The Forever Green Initiative is supported by multiple sources including state and federal grants as well as investments from companies, foundations, and commodity groups.
Legal Citation / Subdivision
M.L. 2015, 1st Special Session, Chapter 2, Article 2, Section 3
Appropriation Language

M.L. 2015: (i) $1,000,000 the first year is for grants to the Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota to fund the Forever Green Agriculture Initiative and to protect the state's natural resources while increasing the efficiency, profitability, and productivity of Minnesota farmers by incorporating perennial and winter-annual crops into existing agricultural practices

2016 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$292,460
Other Funds Leveraged
$4,387,793
Measurable Outcome(s)

FY16 dollars supported eleven projects which focus on incorporating perennial and winter annual crops into existing agricultural practices were selected through a request for proposal process administered by the University of Minnesota.

Additional project information for these thirteen projects and previous projects, can be found on the MDA's Forever Green website.

Description of Funds
The Forever Green Initiative is supported by multiple sources including state and federal grants as well as investments from companies, foundations, and commodity groups.
Project Manager
First Name
Margaret
Last Name
Wagner
Organization Name
Minnesota Department of Agriculture
Street Address
625 Robert Street North
City
St. Paul
State
MN
Zip Code
55155
Phone
651-201-6488
Email
Margaret.Wagner@state.mn.us
Administered By
Administered by
Location

625 Robert Street North
St. Paul, MN 55155

Phone
651-201-6000
Email the Agency