MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota - Today, General Mills and Ecosystem Services Market Consortium (ESMC) announced a multi-year roadmap to scale Eco-Harvest. The roadmap focuses on priority regions in the U.S. and Canada where General Mills sources its key ingredients, like wheat, oat, corn, and dairy. The initial $3 million investment from General Mills includes an ESMC grant to support the launch and development of Eco-Harvest and funds to scale regional programs.
“As a founding member of ESMC, General Mills is proud to expand its partnership and reward farmers for the quantifiable impact they’re having on the environment by advancing regenerative agriculture,” said Mary Jane Melendez, chief sustainability and global impact officer, General Mills. “As a non-profit, ESMC gives us confidence that the greatest possible value will go to the farmers. Also, no other market program offers the same scientific rigor and outcomes-based protocols that ESMC delivers, ensuring the credibility of soil carbon removals or reduced greenhouse gas emissions for reporting. General Mills is inviting supply chain partners and other companies that source from these same regions to collaborate on this effort to have the greatest impact.”
Eco-Harvest is a voluntary market program that generates and sells credits for increased soil carbon, reduced greenhouse gases, and improved water quality. These credits represent verified environmental benefits created within agricultural value chains resulting from approved farm practice changes. Eco-Harvest supports General Mills’ commitments to advance regenerative agriculture on one million acres by 2030, reduce absolute greenhouse gas emissions across its value chain (scopes 1, 2 and 3) by 30 percent by 2030, and ultimately achieve net zero emissions by 2050.
“With our Eco-Harvest market launched, we are excited to partner with General Mills on our joint vision to scale regenerative agriculture outcomes from U.S and Canadian producers using our science-based, standards-based approach,” said Debbie Reed, executive director, Ecosystem Services Market Consortium. “We have spent more than three years building, testing, and refining our program. Now, we can scale impacts to not only pay farmers but also tap the interest from companies like General Mills, along with investors and consumers who are seeking transparent and meaningful actions.”
In 2020, General Mills and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment piloted a project with ESMC to reward farmers for improving soil health on their land, through techniques like using cover crops and reducing tillage. The pilot project was made available to Kansas wheat farmers participating in General Mills’ regenerative agriculture program and tested ESMC’s protocols and processes. Twenty-one farmers participated, opting into data tracking and field measurements. In October 2021, these farmers were paid for their improved ecosystem services, and the collaborative plans to continue the program in 2022. The pilot informed enhancements to improve farmer enrollment, data collection, soil sampling, impact verification processes and technology.
“We see the efforts from General Mills over the past handful of years, including the curiosity and ambition to move the whole system forward,” said Alex Boersch, farmer, Elie, Manitoba and owner of Re-Gen Ag Solutions Inc. “While General Mills is buying oats from the region, they’ve shown interest in everything that’s happening on the land. I appreciate that General Mills is stepping up and trying to do this to be a leader.”
ESMC and General Mills seek collaboration across the value chain to combine regional demand and drive momentum in these key sourcing regions. In July, ESMC will share regional Request for Proposals (RFPs) to identify organizations who can provide technical assistance, farmer enrollment support and soil carbon sampling. Implementing organizations will be selected in August and soil sampling will occur in spring of 2023 to set an important baseline for eventual credit generation.
About Ecosystem Services Market Consortium
Ecosystem Services Market Consortium (ESMC) is a non-profit collective action program dedicated to scaling quantified and verified sustainable ecosystem services from agriculture. ESMC is a public private partnership of the agricultural supply chain and value chain – including agricultural producer groups and co-ops, major corporate food and beverage companies, agribusiness, conservation and environmental NGO’s, ag tech companies, land grant universities, and others. ESMC members have collectively invested in and launched ESMC’s national scale market program, Eco-Harvest, in May 2022. Read more at www.ecosystemservicesmarket.org.