General Mills on track to meet 2030 regenerative agriculture goal

USA — General Mills, a Minnesota based food company now has more than 225,000 acres of regenerative-managed farmland in its supply chain, keeping toward its goal of 1 million acres by 2030.

Though that initial milestone represents a fraction of the total acreage that supplies the company, regenerative agriculture represents “our primary strategy for meeting our greenhouse gas goal,” said Steve Rosenzweig, senior soil scientist at General Mills.

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Regenerative agriculture is an umbrella term for a number of practices, such as cover crops and low- or no-till farming, that can help soil naturally regenerate nutrients while reducing fertilizer needs, runoff and impacts to water quality. It can also lead to more carbon captured in the soil.

General Mills recently partnered with tech company Regrow Agriculture to monitor 175 million acres of farmland — the amount used to supply General Mills — across North America, Europe and South America.

About 3 million of those acres being monitored are General Mills suppliers. The goal is to improve data collection and baselines to measure the success of regenerative practices — and in turn provide evidence those practices are a win-win for farmers and the planet.

“It’s a continuum, this regenerative concept, and farmers need to know what they need to go down that path on their own,” said Jay Watson, a leader of the climate and regenerative agriculture team at General Mills.

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To further incentivize more farmers to get on board, the company recently invested $3 million in Eco-Harvest, a voluntary market program that generates and sells credits for increased soil carbon, reduced greenhouse gases and improved water quality.

“Market-based incentives and mechanisms can reward farmers for their services to society,” Watson said. “It’s good for business, and others can benefit as well.”

General Mills has pledged to reduce emissions 30% by 2030 and reach net-zero emissions in 2050.

Rapid growth during the pandemic and supply chain inefficiencies caused emissions to rise 2% between the middle of 2020 and summer 2021, company leaders said this spring.

Many other major Minnesota food companies, including Cargill, Land O’Lakes and Hormel Foods, are also pursuing regenerative agriculture to meet their climate pledges.

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