What are Climate Collaborative committed companies doing to build holistic carbon farming systems?
- Building the Business Case with Straus Family Creamery
- Investing in Rural Communities with Coop Coffees
- Scaling Impact with General Mills, Stonyfield Organic, Dr. Bronner’s
Embedding Equality in the Supply Chain with Native American Natural Foods, Traditional Medicinals, Lotus Foods
- Engaging Consumers
- Getting Involved
BUILDING THE BUSINESS CASE
Straus Family Creamery is working to prove a financial case for regenerative dairies to help encourage broad uptake of these practices beyond the Straus supply chain. Ideally, regenerative systems reduce the need to purchase external inputs in favor of on-farm inputs (i.e. grass, compost). Using on-site samples and 18 years of satellite imagery of all supplier farms, Straus, with partners at UC Berkeley and NASA, proved that compost application and rotational grazing increased biomass on producers’ grazing fields. This increase, thanks to closed-loop, regenerative farming practices, led to the following benefits:
Consistent Increase in Production. Over four years, the biomass in carbon farmed pastures increased consistently despite a serious drought and irregular rainfall patterns.
Biomass Yields. Carbon-farmed ranchland produced anywhere from 200 to 600 more pounds of dry-matter forage weight per acre.
Cost Savings. The additional biomass produced is conservatively estimated to reduce the demand of outside feed by $100 per acre.
Since the initial study, Straus Family Creamery has continued to quantify the benefits that regenerative practices are bringing its dairy partners. The initial reception has been positive and future plans include:
- Continued satellite measurements of all supply farm’s pastures.
- Fine-tuned results that highlight peak forage results of more detailed pasture divisions.
- Financial and operational support of the adoption of carbon farm plans at all the dairies that supply Straus family creamery with milk.
- Grant and project implementation assistance for any farms seeking to implement Healthy Soils Projects like compost application or rotational grazing.
- Soil carbon inventories across the 6,000 acres where Straus cows graze.
Read the full case study on our blog.
INVESTING IN RURAL COMMUNITIES
Organic coffee plots, managed as agroforestry systems, sustain plant and animal species and can stock and maintain high levels of soil organic carbon. Coop Coffees is using the Cool Farm Tool to identify the environmental impact of an individual farmer’s choices in land-use management – including the type and
density of their plantings, fertilization practices, biomass residue management, water use, on farm energy use for processing or handling, and transportation. Enhancing the capacity to diagnose, plan, train, and track farmers’ continual progress enables Coop Coffees to invest strategically in rural communities. The tool also enables producer organizations to showcase top performers as “climate-resiliency” innovators and encourages further investment in their efforts. Coop Coffees’ pilot program will:
Directly benefit 250 small-scale coffee farmers, community trainers and their immediate technical support representatives.
Indirectly benefit more than 12,500 farmers with outreach, replication and eventual climate resiliency investments.
In 2020: Train coop representatives from at least 5 producer partners in 3 countries on the potential and proper application of the Cool Farm Tool.
In 2021: Validate carbon sequestration results for at least 250 producers in 6 grower organizations and offer $100,000 in “environmental service” premiums to regenerative organic farmers who have successfully demonstrated their carbon sequestration.
In 2022: Scale carbon tracking to all interested supplier cooperative partners from within the Coop Coffees producer network and beyond.
Integrating, and eventually scaling, regenerative practices requires long-term commitment from stakeholders throughout the supply chain. Companies like General Mills, Stonyfield, and Dr. Bronner’s are partnering with farmers and suppliers to scale impact by:
Video courtesy of Stonyfield Organic
Creating open-source tools that measure carbon impact and model scenarios to help build the business case for regenerative. Together with government, research, and foundation partners, Stonyfield Organic played a leading role in launching the Open Technology Ecosystem for Agricultural Management (OpenTEAM) in 2019. OpenTEAM is a farmer-driven, interconnected platform to provide farmers around the world with free access to site- and crop-specific data. OpenTEAM communicates with a network of other farm tools to put farmers in control of their data, including field-level carbon measurement, digital management records, remote sensing, predictive analytics and input and economic management decision support.
Committing to 1 million regenerative acres. In 2019, General Mills committed to advancing regenerative practices on 1 million acres of supplier farmland. General Mills supports farmers with 1:1 technical assistance, cover crop cost share, multi-day workshops, and a network of like-minded farmers to share best practices. Three pilot projects currently underway are gathering data to quantify the benefits of regenerative agriculture to farmers and ecosystems: in Kansas, 24 wheat farmers representing 17,000 acres; in North Dakota and Canada, 45 oat farmers representing 50,000 acres; and in Michigan, 3 dairies which provide 16% of milk for General Mills’ Yoplait yogurts. In addition, a partnership with South Dakota Gunsmoke Farms recently culminated in USDA organic certification for 34,000 acres that will supply wheat for Annie’s Mac & Cheese. CSO Mary Jane Mendelez shared that her team sees the most success from farmers who “embrace a regenerative mindset to develop experiments aligned with their risk tolerance and financial position.”
Spearheading certification standards and helping suppliers transition to regenerative.
Together with Rodale Institute, Patagonia and other regenerative Organic allies, Dr. Bronner’s is at the forefront of developing a Regenerative Organic Certified standard that manufacturers and producers can use to certify ingredients and products. To encourage uptake within their own supply chain, Dr. Bronner’s works with in-country partners to establish viable regenerative business plans for suppliers of key ingredients like coconuts, sugar, palm kernel, olive oil, and mint. In India, for example, Dr. Bronner’s supports access to funding, farmer training, and equipment purchases for 1,200 small-share mint producers. The Fair Trade premiums that Dr. Bronner’s pays suppliers ($3.5 million to date), helps provide farming communities the financial security to invest in closed-loop, regenerative practices as well as healthcare, education, and infrastructure that improves quality of life.
Learn more - Farmer Perspectives on Regenerative Agriculture (including Dr. Bronner’s)
EMBEDDING EQUALITY IN THE SUPPLY CHAIN
At its best, regenerative agriculture benefits farmers, companies, and consumers by delivering healthier products and building food systems that can adapt to our changing climate. A holistic approach integrates equity and justice considerations into projects to address the systemic inequities in agriculture supply chains. Committed companies are breaking down social and economic barriers by:
Video courtesy of Native American Natural Foods & American Express
Drawing on Indigenous knowledge and creative partnerships to restore and rebuild the ecosystems and food sources that long supported thriving economic, social, and food systems. Across the U.S., Native Americans are capturing just 10 percent of the agricultural revenue generated on their lands . Tanka Bar was founded to create local wealth for the Oglala Sioux people of South Dakota while restoring the native bison population and prairie ecosystem. In 2020, after a year of discussion and brainstorming, Native American Natural Foods (maker of the Tanka Bar) and Niman Ranch announced an operational partnership that would provides NANF with technical expertise in marketing, supply chain development, and distribution management, and Niman Ranch with a new source for bison and organic and grass-fed beef.
Supporting standards that protect minority communities. Medicinal plants are often foraged by people in marginalized rural communities who depend on them for their livelihoods. At the bottom of a long supply chain, these harvesters have historically received the smallest benefit from a rapidly growing industry and its high demand for wild plants.The FairWild Standard came into being in the early 2000s as a way to protect wild-collected plant species from being over-harvested and promote fair working conditions. An early supporter and adopter of the standard, Traditional Medicinals leads the tea industry in fair sourcing practices. The company sources 35% of its herbs from wild collectors in 35 countries and has invested $6 million in proliferating its just, equitable business model.
Learn more - Roadmap to Climate Action and Collaboration in the
Innovating growing methods that ease manual labor and provide more stable incomes for a majority-women workforce.
Lotus Foods’ More Crop per DropTM method can triple Organic crop yields with fewer seedlings, healthier working conditions, and lower water use and methane emissions. Lotus’ regenerative practices include: eliminating standing water, which reduces farmers’ exposure to parasites, leeches, and fungal infections; transplanting fewer seedlings and planting in grids to reduce the time workers spend bent over; and using a vertical planting and harvesting tool to drastically improve the physical wellbeing of partner farmers, mostly women, who traditionally perform the back-breaking work of tending rice fields.
In addition to improving environmental and working conditions, Lotus Foods pays premiums for Organic and Fair Trade certifications, benefitting an estimated 5,000 households across Asia and Madagascar. In Cambodia alone, Lotus Foods paid $100,000 in premiums that boosted farmer income and funded a community center, rice mill, leadership training, latrines, and rainwater harvesting. In spring 2020, Lotus’ basmati partners in India qualified for Regenerative Organic certification (Silver).
 USDA Agriculture Census, 2012 and 2017
Engaging consumers authentically can be challenging, especially when it comes to technical climate solutions like regenerative agriculture. Numerous committed companies have launched consumer education campaigns on the benefits of regenerative practices, and elevating consumer awareness of regenerative agriculture is a constantly evolving landscape. Check out Annie’s “Soil Matters” campaign, Dr. Bronner’s “Heal Earth” campaign and Happy Family Organics’ “Farmed for our Future” campaign to see how companies have started to build consumer awareness.
If you have a story to share, please email [email protected].
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