US consumer goods giant General Mills is making a commitment to regenerative agricultural practices and is backing farmers and suppliers along the way.

The owner of the Yoplait yogurt and Nature Valley snacks brands is aiming to boost regenerative agricultural practices across one million acres of farmland by 2030 as it seeks to contribute toward cutting greenhouse gas emissions, according to a statement today (4 March).

Regenerative agriculture is a system of farming principles that help facilitate and increase biodiversity and enrich soil nutrition and the eco-system.

General Mills explained such agricultural techniques as “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.” 

New York-listed General Mills, which is based in Minnesota, is giving US$650,000 to not-for-profit organisation Kiss the Ground to provide support for farmer training through Soil Health Academies as part of its environmental push. The company said it will partner with suppliers under the initiative for oats, wheat, corn, dairy feed and sugar beet. 

General Mills claims the global food system accounts for around one-third of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and 70% of water consumption, although it did not provide the source of the information.

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Chief executive and chairman Jeff Harmening said: “We have been feeding families for more than 150 years and we need a strong planet to enable us to feed families for the next 150 years. We recognise 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.”

The company has a target to reduce GHG emissions by 28% across its supply chain by 2025 and said it is almost half way to that goal. It has cut emissions by 13% compared to 2010.

Jon Nudi, the president of General Mills’ North America Retail division, said the company’s first trainer programmes and academies will focus on growers within his geographical remit to source oats used in brands such as Cheerios, Annie’s, Cascadian Farms and Nature Valley.

Meanwhile, Lauren Tucker, the executive director of Kiss the Ground, added: “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. 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.”

In October, Epic Provisions, the US meat-snacks business owned by General Mills, launched the first product in its domestic market to carry a seal concerning regenerative agriculture.