Originally Appeared in Presence Marketing News, September 2019
By Steven Hoffman
Over the past several years, leading food producer General Mills has committed to sourcing major ingredients, including oats, wheat and sugar, from farmers who follow sustainable practices. Now, the maker of Cheerios and hundreds of other products is taking it one step further and encouraging its farmers to reduce their use of pesticides. “Recognizing that synthetic pesticides may harm beneficial insects including pollinators, or drift beyond a farmer’s field, affecting nearby fields and ecosystems, we are actively working across our value chain to limit these unintended and potentially harmful impacts,” General Mills says on its website. “We have strategies in place to reduce synthetic pesticide use, and we work with trusted agronomists and other experts to implement continuous improvement practices throughout our supply chain.” General Mills reports that it is employing four strategies to reduce pesticide use, including: 1) encouraging regenerative agriculture; 2) promoting Integrated Pest Management (IPM); 3) expanding organic acreage; and 4) promoting pollinator health. Earlier this year General Mills announced a goal of increasing regenerative agriculture practices to one million acres by 2030. The practice, which includes the use of cover crops, diverse crop rotations and other strategies, could be a key part of the company’s pesticide reduction plan, reported The Western Producer. “Among its many benefits, regenerative agriculture suppresses pests by promoting natural competition to significantly reduce the need for synthetic pesticides,” General Mills says. According to General Mills, the company is working with 45 farmers, mostly in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, coaching the producers on regenerative practices. The company is measuring a number of outcomes from regenerative agriculture, including pesticide use. According to The Western Producer, General Mills is the second largest producer of organic and natural food in the U.S. In 2018, the company reached 200,000 acres of organic production, with a goal of 250,000 in 2019.