CoverCress names new CEO as winter oilseed edges closer to commercialization
Updated: May 18, 2021
The board of directors for CoverCress Inc., a company aiming to commercialize the nation’s first “cash cover crop,” has named Mike DeCamp as its new president and CEO and a member of the board. DeCamp takes the helm after one year of serving as chief operating officer (COO).
The company is converting field pennycress, a native winter annual, into a new winter oilseed crop for Midwest farmers under the CoverCress™ brand. As the “cash cover crop,” CoverCress seed allows corn and soybean farmers to add a profitable new third crop into their rotation on existing land over winter and early spring. It also offers the environmental benefits of a cover crop such as mitigating nutrient loss, reducing soil erosion and increasing soil carbon sequestration.
The CoverCress crop is unique as one of the best scalable options to produce low carbon intensity oil to be made into renewable fuels like biodiesel, renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel, and help the industry meet the goal of doubling its role in the nation’s fuel supply. It will also be used in animal feed.
“Our team at CoverCress is passionate about our mission of delivering farmers the opportunity to produce more income from their existing land while enhancing the current role they play in tackling climate change,” DeCamp said. “Innovation has led the way for our business and that will continue as we transition into commercial operations. I am honored the board has entrusted me with leading this next phase of growth.”
DeCamp succeeds company co-founder Jerry Steiner, who will serve as executive chairman of the board, remaining active in the company’s strategy execution.
“Jerry’s passion for the business, its team and its partners, coupled with his disciplined strategic vision, has set the company on a solid path in delivering this new technology to Midwest farmers,” said Rick Holton Jr., COO of Hermann Companies and an initial investor and board member of the company. “We thank him for his exceptional service, while welcoming Mike as the perfect fit to take this amazing company to market.”
Cameron Ator has joined in the new role of chief commercial officer, reflecting the company’s transition from a research and development focus to launching commercial operations. He brings more than 30 years of ag industry experience, most recently serving with Bayer Crop Science. Ator grew up on his family farm in western Illinois and is still active in its operation today.
“Cam’s farming heritage, coupled with his industry knowledge and relationships, is exactly the right combination of talent and experience to lead the commercial expansion of the business,” DeCamp said.
The company plans a commercial launch of CoverCress seed in 2022, initially partnering with Illinois and Missouri farmers, with the goal of growing to several million acres across the lower Midwest.
Alan Weber, an economist with MARC-IV Consulting and a leading biodiesel expert instrumental in the commercial success of the U.S. biodiesel industry, was also elected to the board. Weber, the first independent director, will play an important role in the company’s efforts to position CoverCress oil as a reliable low-carbon feedstock source to produce biodiesel and renewable diesel, particularly in light of the industry’s aggressive goal of reaching 6 billion gallons by 2030.
From its inception, CoverCress has partnered with the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, a world-leading institution for plant science based in St. Louis.