Food and beverage maker PepsiCo Inc. and agriculture giant Archer Daniels Midland Co. are partnering to implement carbon-friendly agricultural practices on two million acres of American farmland by 2030, the companies said Wednesday.
The effort could eliminate 1.4 million metric tons of greenhouse gases, the companies said, helping both reach their carbon reduction goals.
“It’s the largest effort we’ve had like this to date,” said Jim Andrew, chief sustainability officer at PepsiCo, calling it a “sea change” from typical operations because of the length and geographic scope of the partnership.
The farming methods, known as “regenerative” practices, focus on techniques that enrich the soil and put carbon back into the ground. As pressure mounts for companies to meet carbon targets, a slew of major food companies have turned to regenerative agriculture in recent years, including General Mills Inc., Cargill Inc. and Walmart Inc.
ADM and PepsiCo’s strategic partnership will initially target 60,000 corn, soy and wheat producers across Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and Nebraska. There will be financial incentives, plus technical and agronomic support, said Alison Taylor, chief sustainability officer at ADM.
Big food companies’ efforts to usher in regenerative agriculture practices across US farms is coming even as most American consumers aren’t familiar with the term, and haven’t been willing to pay premiums to buy food grown using those methods. Environmental advocates have also expressed skepticism.
“We need mandatory reporting, better tracking, standards, definitions,” said Jennifer Molidor, senior food campaigner at the Center for Biological Diversity.
PepsiCo and ADM’s program will conduct baseline measurements to ensure reductiones in carbon emissions, water usage and chemical inputs, Taylor said. ADM will include results in its annual sustainability report. PepsiCo will track the acreage that it has helped transition to regenerative practices. So far, that tally amounts to 345,000 acres in the US and Canada. PepsiCo’s goal is ultimately to convert 7 million acres. Corn and soybeans are grown over about 180 million acres in the US.
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