USA – The Walmart Foundation alongside Cargill and McDonald’s are teaming up on a cross-industry collaboration to fight climate change.

The three corporations announced that they were investing US$6 million into a grazing initiative lead by the World Wildlife Fund. The program aims to make long-lasting improvements to the Northern Great Plains, focusing primarily on Montana, Nebraska and South Dakota. 

The program is known as the Ranch Systems and Viability Planning network and will give ranchers training and tools to help advance grazing practices that improve the health of the land.

“Ranchers are the most important stewards of the grasslands of the Northern Great Plains. As managers of over 70% of the remaining intact grasslands within this region, they hold the keys to its future,” said Martha Kauffman, managing director of WWF’s Northern Great Plains programme.

“Collaborative efforts like this can accelerate innovative, sustainable solutions and support ranchers in the beef supply chain.”

Kathleen McLaughlin – President, Walmart Foundation

“The RSVP network will support ranching partners in planning and improving the resiliency of their operations, so they continue to provide habitat for wildlife, store carbon, filter clean water, produce nutritious food and support communities for generations to come.”

The Northern Great Plains ecoregion makes up about 25 percent of the total area of the Great Plains of North America. Despite its harsh climate, the NGP supports 1,595 species of plants, which provide habitat for 300 species of birds, 95 species of mammals and 28 species of reptiles, according to a Cargill release.

Kathleen McLaughlin, EVP and chief sustainability officer for Walmart and president of the Walmart Foundation, said: “Collaborative efforts like this can accelerate innovative, sustainable solutions and support ranchers in the beef supply chain.”

As the RSVP network progresses, the WWF will begin offering one-on-one and group teaching to ranchers in the area. The WWF plans to offer ongoing education and cost sharing on designing, documenting and implementing ranch plans.

“By improving management of one million acres over five years and avoiding conversion, this effort will result in increased carbon storage and sequestration, improved water infiltration and better outcomes for biodiversity,” a Cargill release said.

The program supports the Walmart Foundation’s goal of using more sustainable beef practices, McDonald’s ambition of using its farm-to-restaurant relationships to evolve the food system and Cargill’s BeefUp Sustainability initiative which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the company’s beef supply chain.

“We believe beef cattle can be a force for good, and one of the ways we can address some of our shared challenges by preserving wildlife and drawing down carbon. This initiative is a testament to that,” Heather Tansey, sustainability lead for Cargill’s protein and animal nutrition and health businesses, said.

Earlier this month, Cargill announced that it is supporting farmer-led efforts to adopt regenerative agriculture practices on 10 million acres of crop land in North America by 2030.

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