General Mills’ mega push towards healthy farming practices to lessen Big Food's footprint

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

General Mills has committed to advance regenerative agriculture across one million acres by 2030. Pic: ©GettyImages/valentinrussanov
General Mills has committed to advance regenerative agriculture across one million acres by 2030. Pic: ©GettyImages/valentinrussanov

Related tags Big Food Agriculture soil health Cascadian farm Gunsmoke Farms Organic Greenhouse gas emissions Grain

General Mills has committed to advancing regenerative agricultural practices on one million acres of US farmland by 2030.

The food giant is collaborating with farmers, suppliers and advisors in key growing regions to achieve this goal.

Regenerative agriculture is a holistic method of farming that uses practices that protect and intentionally enhance natural resources, such as pulling carbon from the air and storing it in the soil and helping the land to be more resilient to extreme weather events.

According to General Mills, the global food system accounts for approximately one-third of greenhouse gas emissions and 70% of water consumption.

“We have been feeding families for over 150 years and we need a strong planet to enable us to feed families for the next 150 years,”​ said Jeff Harmening, chairman and CEO of General Mills.

“We recognize that our biggest opportunity to drive positive impact for the planet we all share lies within our own supply chain and by being a catalyst to bring people together to drive broader adoption of regenerative agriculture practices.”

Farmer training

The first on-farm training and education academies will focus on North American growers, where the company sources its oats for Cheerios, Annie's, Cascadian Farm, Nature Valley and Blue Buffalo.

Healthy planet noipornpan

"We need a strong planet to enable us to feed families for the next 150 years" - ​Jeff Harmening, chairman and CEO of General Mills.

Nonprofit organization Kiss the Ground will receive a $650k grant from General Mills to be used to teach farmers how to increase farm profitability, build resiliency into the land and decrease input costs by using soil health practices.

“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,”​ said Lauren Tucker, executive director of Kiss the Ground.

“We have an opportunity to not just sustain our natural resources but to restore them for generations to come. We can only advance the adoption of these practices that benefit people and the planet if we partner with and support our farmers.”

Advancing soil health initiatives

General Mills has invested more than $4m since 2015 to advance soil health initiatives.

Its efforts includes working with Gunsmoke Farms to convert 34,000 acres of conventional farmland in South Dakota to certified organic acreage by 2020​ and developing The Soil Health Roadmap in partnership with The Nature Conservancy.

The roadmap outlines steps to achieve widespread adoption of soil health systems on more than 50% of US cropland by 2025.

The company has also committed to its greenhouse gas emissions by 28% across its full value chain by 2025. It is nearly halfway to that goal, with the emissions footprint down 13% in 2018 compared to 2010.

Last year, it partnered with The Land Institute to develop and commercialize Kernza – an organic perennial grain that has a dense root system that is able to capture carbon and water while preventing soil erosion​– to be used for its Cascadian Farm organic brand.

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