General Mills pilots regenerative dairy project
General Mills has partnered with three Michigan dairy farms for the next three years on a regenerative agriculture pilot project as part of its commitment to advance the practices on one million acres by 2030.
Chief sustainability and social impact officer Mary Jane Melendez tells Brownfield the pilot includes introducing regenerative practices, like cover crops, on 1,500 acres and adaptive grazing. “Cows are outside much more, and their diet is different because now they’re integrating cover crops. It’s not that they’re just eating feed or dry hay, they’re eating more living plants.”
She says the selected farms manage about 14,000 acres and supply the Reed City Yoplait plant as members of Foremost Farms. “We source about 15 to 20 percent of our milk for our Yoplait brand out of those three farms.”
Consultant Dr. Allen Williams with partner group Understanding Ag tells Brownfield there are opportunities for small and large dairy farmers to adaptively graze, for some their entire herd and others with heifers and dry cows.
Melendez says General Mills wants to change how natural resources are protected through regenerative agricultural practices which include farmer economic resilience and improving soil health, biodiversity, water quality, and animal welfare.
This is the third regenerative ag pilot for the company and first for the dairy ingredient supply chain. Oat and wheat supply chains also have pilots underway.
Melendez says General Mills is currently working on how brands can highlight regenerative agriculture practices for consumers.