General Mills invests US$3M in Eco-Harvest program to bolster regenerative agriculture

USA — General Mills has invested US$3 million in Ecosystem Services Market Consortium (ESMC) to scale Eco-Harvest, ESMC’s market program that rewards farmers for beneficial environmental outcomes from regenerative agriculture.

Part of General Mills’ initial investment includes an ESMC grant to support the launch and development of Eco-Harvest and funds to scale regional programs.

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Primary focus will be on priority regions in the United States and Canada where the Minneapolis-based company sources its key ingredients, including wheat, oat, corn and dairy.

Eco-Harvest is a voluntary market program that generates and sells credits for increased soil carbon, reduced greenhouse gases, and improved water quality resulting from approved farm practice changes. ESMC said it is targeting up to 500,000 acres enrollment in the program.

“As a founding member of ESMC, General Mills is proud to expand its partnership and reward farmers for the quantifiable impact they’re having on the environment by advancing regenerative agriculture,” said Mary Jane Melendez, chief sustainability and global impact officer, General Mills.

Eco-Harvest supports General Mills’ commitments to advance regenerative agriculture on one million acres and reduce absolute greenhouse gas emissions across its value chain by 30 percent by 2030, and ultimately achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

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“With our Eco-Harvest market launched, we are excited to partner with General Mills on our joint vision to scale regenerative agriculture outcomes from US and Canadian producers using our science-based, standards-based approach,” said Debbie Reed, executive director, ESMC.

 “We have spent more than three years building, testing and refining our program. Now, we can scale impacts to not only pay farmers but also tap the interest from companies like General Mills, along with investors and consumers who are seeking transparent and meaningful actions.”she added.

This is not the first collaboration between General Mills and ESMC. In 2020, General Mills and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment piloted a project with ESMC to reward farmers for improving soil health on their land, through techniques like using cover crops and reducing tillage.

 According to General Mills, the pilot project was made available to Kansas wheat farmers participating in General Mills’ regenerative agriculture program and tested ESMC’s protocols and processes.

General Mills is inviting supply chain partners and other companies that source from these same regions to collaborate on this effort to have the greatest impact.

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In July, ESMC will share regional Request for Proposals (RFPs) to identify organizations that can provide technical assistance, farmer enrollment support and soil carbon sampling.

Implementing organizations will be selected in August, and soil sampling will occur in the spring of 2023 to set an important baseline for eventual credit generation, General Mills said.

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