MONHEIM, GERMANY — Bayer, Bunge and Chevron USA Inc., a subsidiary of Chevron Corp., have signed a shareholders’ agreement in connection with Bayer’s acquisition of a 65% majority ownership of winter oilseed producer CoverCress, Inc. (CCI). The remaining 35% of CCI will continue ownership under Bunge and Chevron.

In its Aug. 3 announcement, Bayer said this investment delivers on the company’s commitments to sustainability and can help decarbonize agriculture and reduce reliance on nitrogen fertilizer with combined expertise of existing investors, Bunge and Chevron. Bayer said that advancing ownership in CCI, a Leaps by Bayer portfolio company since 2015, underscores the value of nurturing and supporting breakthrough innovations. CCI will continue to operate as an independent entity.

Founded in 2013, St. Louis, Missouri, US-based CCI is converting field pennycress, a common winter annual, using plant breeding to improve yield and maturity combined with advanced gene editing tools to improve fiber and oil composition. CoverCress is a rotational cash crop that combines grain production with the environmental benefits of a cover crop without displacing other harvests such as corn and soybeans. 

“CoverCress is exciting because it has the potential to become an important source for biofuel production as a new harvested rotational crop, while giving growers an innovative option to continue effective stewardship of their land and improve soil quality by acting as a cover crop,” said Rodrigo Santos, member of the board of management of Bayer AG and president of the Crop Science Division. “As a global leader in crop science, we are committed to decarbonizing agriculture and helping farmers around the world become more sustainable through game-changing products and solutions that can impact climate change. This investment and collaboration between industry leaders is another proof point for our efforts.”

Aligning the combined expertise of Bayer, Bunge, and Chevron with the potential held by CoverCress will position CCI to further develop and commercialize its namesake winter oilseed into a rotational cash cover crop with potential sustainability and carbon sequestration benefits and bring a new lower carbon fuel feedstock to the renewable diesel industry.

“Since our founding in 2013 we have actively sought – and benefited from – scientific, operational, and financial support from our academic and strategic partners,” said Mike DeCamp, chief executive officer and president of CCI. “The progress we have made in converting pennycress into our novel, lower carbon intensity oilseed technology, CoverCress, would have been much slower without this critical support. Our long-standing strategic partnership with Bayer and our more recent strategic partnerships with Bunge, and Chevron have provided us with access to expertise and capital that positions CCI very well for future success.”

By leveraging expertise and backing from leaders in fuels, soybean crushing, logistics, and crop sciences, CCI will be positioned to deliver on its full potential via a supply chain that understands its crop’s production, growth, processing, and delivery needs from the ground up.

Under a commercial partnership between CCI and Bunge announced in April, CCI will supply CoverCress grain produced under contract with farmers to Bunge for processing. The strategic partnership among Chevron, Bunge and CCI will create a dedicated farm-to-fuel supply chain for the low-carbon intensity oil feedstock produced from CoverCress grain.

“Connecting the full value chain – from seed development to end consumer – is an important step to bringing this crop to market at scale,” said Greg Heckman, chief executive officer of Bunge. “We look forward to helping meet the growing demand for renewable fuels with this next generation lower carbon feedstock.”