General Mills has announced a new commitment to transition one million acres of farmland to regenerative agriculture by 2030. This transition will encompass the promotion of practices including growing cover crops, adding livestock, and encouraging the use of polycultures on farms supplying the company's brands.
As part of this plan, the company will work with industry experts like non-profit Kiss the Ground, to which it has granted $650,000 for the integration of techniques to increase carbon storage in the soil. General Mills will also be supporting farmer training through Soil Health Academies.
“Investing in soil health and regenerating our soils has numerous benefits including water infiltration, reduced pest pressure, resilience to unpredictable weather, and reducing greenhouse gasses,” Lauren Tucker, executive director of Kiss the Ground, says in a press release. “We have an opportunity to not just sustain our natural resources, but to restore them for generations to come.”
“In sustainability work, it’s often challenging to find anything that lifts more than one or two boats at a time,” Jerry Lynch, General Mills’s chief sustainability officer, tells Fast Company. “This lifts so many boats: water quality, soil health, reduced carbon footprint, increased biodiversity, and farmer profitability and economic resilience.”
General Mills plans to begin on-farm training at facilities producing oats for brands including Cheerios, Annie's, Cascadian Farm, Nature Valley and Blue Buffalo. The company later plans to integrate these techniques across farms producing other ingredients, including wheat, corn, dairy feed, and sugar beets.
In 2015, General Mills committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 28 percent before 2025. The company reports it has currently reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 13 percent.
It is estimated that the food system accounts for about a third of greenhouse gas emissions and 70 percent of water consumption worldwide.
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