Food industry looks to scale regenerative agriculture despite weakened climate rules

By Staff
2 Min Read

Large food and agribusiness companies are forging ahead on efforts to scale regenerative agriculture even as U.S. regulators pull back on reporting requirements for on-farm emissions.

Danone, General Mills and other food giants outlined their efforts to foster soil health and increase biodiversity at the Regenerative Agriculture Summit in Chicago last week. The conversation occurred days after the Securities and Exchange Commission voted on a climate disclosure rule that dropped a proposal for companies to report their supplier emissions.

While executives acknowledged regulations have the potential to spur additional investment in regenerative agriculture, they said farmer collaboration and compensation are more important to ensure an initiative’s success.

“We need to make sure the folks who are doing the work get reimbursed for the work,” said Dean Banks, CEO of Indigo Ag, which pays farmers to transition to regenerative practices. “That really is a thing that needs to be unlocked versus regulation.”

Fewer reporting requirements also gives businesses more breathing room to figure out the right formula to collaborate with farmers to scale regenerative practices, executives said. Regenerative agriculture is still a new industry, and companies will have to be willing to experiment — and potentially fail — to find the best solution to get their farmers on board.

“We’re not going to be perfect,” said Ryan Smith, Danone senior manager for regenerative agriculture impact and partnerships. “We’re going to just do the best we can with the knowledge and tools we have today.”

Executives added that voluntary company climate goals have already led to industry progress. Even if corporate emissions goals may not be met, the targets are essential for driving change and opening the door for more collaborative talks with farmers.

“I think there’s a domino effect,” Smith said. “By setting those goals and keeping those goals, I think it’s keeping us all driven to meet them.”

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