Up to 1/3 of global greenhouse gas emissions stems from the food system, an estimated 80% of which comes from agriculture. Nearly 200 companies in our community are working to reduce their agricultural footprint through carbon farming practices. Among them, CC committee company General Mills is going one step further to create an open-source self-assessment tool for any farmer to use to identify and boost their regenerative agricultural practices.
General Mills has been ramping up their work to address agriculture as one of their biggest levers for positive impact, and announced a goal this year to advance regenerative agriculture practices on one million acres of farmland by 2030.
Supporting this goal, they’ve now released version 2.0 of their General Mills Regenerative Agriculture Self-Assessment-- a user-friendly tool for farmers to understand alignment between their agricultural practices and the principles of regenerative agriculture. The tool is also designed to help companies with agricultural supply chains gain visibility to farm-level practices.
This practices-based assessment includes farming techniques that align with five recognized principles of regenerative agriculture: keep the soil covered, minimize soil disturbance, maximize crop diversity, maintain living root in the ground year-round, and integrate livestock. Research suggests that implementation of these principles leads to positive outcomes in soil health, above ground biodiversity, and economic resilience in farming communities.
We asked them how other companies can use this free tool:
How can the Self-Assessment be used?
The tool is designed to be inclusive of all farming systems—small and large, organic and conventional, crop and livestock, domestic and international. This questionnaire is not a standard or a framework for a product claim, but rather a self-assessment designed to be completed in under 20 minutes. While the tool aims to highlight opportunities for continuous improvement, it is also intended to identify and celebrate ways that farmers are already advancing soil health, above ground biodiversity, and economic resilience in farming communities.
How was the tool developed?
The self-assessment was developed in collaboration with farmers, scientists, practitioners, and a diverse group of employees across the General Mills family. Following the launch of Version 1.0 in 2018, we spent 15 months piloting the inaugural version in our own supply chain while collecting feedback from farmers, scientists, and other stakeholders. We hosted farmer roundtables across the U.S. to engage 140 farmers who helped hone the content of the self-assessment so it can be useful to a variety of farmers across diverse agricultural systems.
How is General Mills using the self-assessment?
We are implementing the tool with key suppliers to empower farmers at the foundation of our supply chain to explore how their practices align with regenerative agriculture principles. We are also using the tool to track progress against our commitment to advance regenerative agriculture on one million acres by 2030.
In addition to this tool, we are developing robust scientific methodologies for measuring and researching the outcomes associated with regenerative agriculture. You can learn more about this and our other efforts on our Regenerative Agriculture Webpage. While the research on outcomes continues, we recognize the importance of assessing agricultural practices as a proxy for farm-level impact.
To honor the privacy of participating farmers, General Mills will keep all data attributable to individual operations strictly confidential.
To enhance user experience, we are currently building the tool into a web-based app. Stay tuned for the launch of the app in the Fall of 2019! In the meantime, you can also check out our recent ROOTED session on the tool.
We welcome feedback and look forward to iterating on this tool over time as we continue our journey to advance regenerative agriculture. If this tool can be useful for your operation or supply chain, we encourage you to use it. We’d love to hear about your experience!