As part of the food industry, we recognize that agriculture contributes to some of our most pressing sustainability challenges, and we believe that the most promising solutions start with healthy soil. We are on a journey to bring soil back to life through regenerative agriculture practices, which protect and intentionally enhance natural resources and farming communities. We believe that to generate positive impact at scale, all types of agriculture—organic and conventional—should be part of the conversation.
How we’re investing in Regenerative Agriculture:
Development of Tools and Resources: In 2017, General Mills made a three-year $2 million commitment to the Nature Conservancy, Soil Health Institute and the Soil Health Partnership to support the development of tools and resources for farmers, landowners, and supply chain leaders to achieve widespread adoption of soil health practices. General Mills has also partnered with the National Wheat Foundation to support research and education outreach on soil health practices to benefit 125,000 wheat farmers across the great plains states.
In collaboration with farmers, scientists, and many other agricultural stakeholders, we developed Version 2.0 of the General Mills Regenerative Agriculture Self-Assessment to help farmers explore how their practices align with the principles of regenerative agriculture. We are also using the tool to track progress against our goal to advance regenerative agriculture on one million acres by 2030. To enhance user-experience, we are currently building a user-friendly customizable web-based app for livestock producers, crop producers, and producers who cultivate both livestock and crops. The app will launch in the fall of 2019.
Training and Technical Support: We are partnering with Kiss the Ground and Understanding Ag to provide resources to farmers who are interested adopting regenerative agriculture principles. We plan to fund 2 and 3-day soil health academies where famers will receive education from leading technical experts. A subset of farmers receiving training will also receive individualized coaching to implement regenerative practices on farm. These farmers will work with Understanding Ag coaches to develop 3 to 5-year regenerative management plans focused on on-farm experimentation and learning. Our initial work is focused on oats but we hope to expand this support model to other key ingredients over time. In addition to documenting practice adoption, we will be conducting field-level assessments to measure improvements against our targeted outcomes of soil health, above-ground biodiversity, and farm economic resilience.
Land Conversion: We are partnering with Midwestern BioAg to enable the conversion of 34,000 acres of conventional farmland in South Dakota to certified organic acreage. Farmers managing the land will plant diverse crop rotations and apply other regenerative agricultural practices to build healthy soil. In addition, more than 3,000 acres of new pollinator habitat will be planted. When the transition is complete in 2020, the farm will supply organic wheat for Annie’s Mac & Cheese.
Direct-Farm Products: In 2018 Annie’s partnered with innovative Montana farmers – Casey Bailey and Nate Powell-Palm – to create limited editions of two of our top items, Mac & Cheese and Bunny Grahams, using organic ingredients grown using regenerative practices. Through our partnership with Casey and Nate, we are piloted and gathered feedback on version 1.0 of the General Mills Regenerative Agriculture Self Assessment, a user-friendly tool to verify implementation of on-farm management practices as they relate to regenerative principles.
Verified Regenerative Sourcing: Through its partnership with the Savory Institute, EPIC has helped create the Land to Market Program to connect conscientious companies and consumers to progressive livestock producers having a positive impact on their land through regenerative practices. The Land to Market Program will allow consumers to easily identify food that has been sourced from farms verified to increase water, soil and climate health.
Research to Advance Best Practices: Cascadian Farm is partnering with Grain Millers, the largest organic oat supplier in the U.S., to promote continuous improvement within organic farming in the United States. They’ve committed $125,000 through 2022 to conduct soil testing, host field days, share best practices and help remove hurdles to advancing the organic movement.