Stonyfield’s approach to climate change starts with their mission to create a healthier planet and extends back to its founding.
Today, prioritizing climate change management filters into nearly every corner of the business. Through the Climate Collaborative, Stonyfield has made commitments to agriculture, packaging, and policy. Here is some of what they are doing in those areas:
- Agriculture: All Stonyfield brand products are certified organic, and the company works closely with farmers in their direct milk supply to provide technical assistance to farmers to help improve their sustainability. They’ve got even more exciting plans lined up, as you’ll read below.
- Packaging: They were the first dairy company to use plant-based packaging.
- Policy: Stonyfield is one of the original members of BICEP (Businesses for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy), where they work advance the business case for Congress to take action on climate change. Stonyfield serves on BICEP’s steering committee, and also works closer to home to lead climate business advocacy efforts in their home state of New Hampshire.
Stonyfield is also a pioneer in the use of lifecycle analysis to assess their climate impact and identify the best opportunities for reducing emissions.
Agriculture – mainly dairy production – represents over half of the company’s carbon footprint so this is a big area of focus. Stonyfield realized early on that sequestering carbon in the soil represents the biggest area of opportunity for farmers and ranchers to both create solutions for climate change and profit from those solutions—and that there was no ideal tool for farmers to support their decision making and allow for cost-efficient participation in carbon markets.
To address this gap, Stonyfield is partnering with Wolfe’s Neck Center for Agriculture and the Environment to develop and launch the Regenerative Farm Observatory and Network. They aim to build large networks of healthy, resilient, productive and profitable farms that measurably contribute to GHG emissions reduction.
Farm OS, seen above in a screenshot, is an open source software platform that serves as the center the project, will be key to its success. The platform is designed to easily connect farmers with existing tools and models for assessing soil health, GHG emissions, and other environmental factors.
- How it works: Farmers can use FarmOS today as an easy to use mobile recordkeeping platform. As development of the platform progresses, farmers will be able to easily route their farm records into decision support apps, agro-ecosystem models, and monitoring tools to provide real time adaptive management recommendations focused on improving soil health and other ecosystem services. Eventually they will also be able to integrate data about farm financials or livestock health via other commonly used tools such as Quickbooks or DHIA records so they can get a more complete assessment of how changes to farming practices and soil health might impact the health of their cows or the farm’s financial outlook.
Ultimately, Stonyfield hopes that the Regenerative Farm Observatory and Network will enable farms around the world to speed up the pace of soil health improvement and carbon sequestration on their farms and make a meaningful impact on climate change. The Four Per Thousand initiative launched by the French government has identified that a 0.4% annual increase in soil carbon storage in all soils would halt the annual increase in atmospheric CO2 levels.
Britt Lundgren, Stonyfield’s director of organic and sustainable agriculture, is optimistic about the future: “In order to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, we need to turn agriculture from a net source to a net sink of GHG emissions. This is an achievable goal, if farmers have the knowledge and tools to identify how they can increase soil C levels on their farm. We believe that the work we are doing with FarmOS and the Regenerative Farm Observatory and Network can help move us towards a future where agriculture is a part of the solution to climate change.”
Companies that are interested in joining the Regenerative Farm Network and helping to pilot and test FarmOS in their own supply chains should reach out to Britt Lundgren at [email protected] for more information on how to get involved.