MINNEAPOLIS — General Mills, Inc. said it plans to partner with organic and conventional farmers, suppliers and farm advisers in key growing regions to advance regenerative agriculture practices on one million acres of farmland by 2030.
Regenerative agriculture is a holistic method of farming deploying practices designed to protect and intentionally enhance natural resources and farming communities. These practices focus on pulling carbon from the air and storing it in the soil in addition to helping the land be more resilient to extreme weather events. General Mills said it will partner with key suppliers to drive adoption across key ingredients including oats, wheat, corn, dairy feed and sugar beets.
“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 Jeffrey L. Harmening, chairman and chief executive officer 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.”
Jonathon J. Nudi, president of North American Retail at General Mills, said the company’s first on-farm training and education academies will focus on North American growers who source oats for Cheerios, Annie’s, Cascadian Farm, Nature Valley and Blue Buffalo.
General Mills has been driving awareness of regenerative agriculture with consumers through its brands. Last spring, the company introduced two limited-edition Annie’s branded products featuring ingredients grown using regenerative farming practices. Annie’s elbow pasta and cheddar and bunny-shaped baked graham snacks were made using organic ingredients from regenerative farms in Montana. The farmers, Nate Powell-Palm and Casey Bailey, were named and pictured on the packaging.
Meanwhile, Cascadian Farm, another General Mills’ brand, is working alongside The Land Institute to commercialize organic Kernza. Kernza is a perennial grain whose roots are able to capture carbon and water, while preventing soil erosion, according to General Mills.
Since 2015, General Mills has invested more than $4 million to advance soil health initiatives. Among its efforts General Mills is working with Gunsmoke Farms L.L.C. to convert 34,000 acres of conventional farmland in South Dakota to certified organic acreage, using regenerative agriculture practices. General Mills also has developed 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 U.S. cropland by 2025.
“We need companies like General Mills who have the scale and commitment to create sustainable agricultural systems,” said Larry Clemens, North America region agriculture director for The Nature Conservancy. “Efforts to improve soil health and enrich biodiversity are critical to addressing climate change and other environmental challenges.”