FARMING IS THE FOUNDATION OF GENERAL MILL'S BUSINESS
Up to 1/3 of global greenhouse gas emissions stems from the food system, an estimated 80% of which comes from agriculture (Vermeulen, et. al., 2012). At General Mills, they recognize the critical role that farming plays in our business and they are committed to advancing agricultural practices that positively impact people and planet.
PURPOSE OF THE SELF-ASSESSMENT
Version 2.0 of the General Mills Regenerative Agriculture Self-Assessment is a user-friendly tool for farmers to understand alignment between their agricultural practices and the principles of regenerative agriculture. The tool is also designed to help companies with agricultural supply chains gain visibility to farm-level practices.
At General Mills, they define regenerative agriculture as farming that protects and intentionally enhances natural resources and farm communities.
This practices-based assessment includes farming techniques that align with five recognized principles of regenerative agriculture: keep the soil covered, minimize soil disturbance, maximize crop diversity, maintain living root in the ground year-round, and integrate livestock. Research suggests that implementation of these principles leads to positive outcomes in soil health, above ground biodiversity, and economic resilience in farming communities.
HOW TO USE THE SELF-ASSESSMENT
The tool is designed to be inclusive of all farming systems — small and large, organic and conventional, crop and livestock, domestic and international. This questionnaire is not a standard or a framework for a product claim, but rather a self-assessment designed to be completed in under 20 minutes. While the tool aims to highlight opportunities for continuous improvement, it is also intended to identify and celebrate ways that farmers are already advancing soil health, above ground biodiversity, and economic resilience in farming communities.
DEVELOPMENT OF THE SELF-ASSESSMENT
The self-assessment was developed in collaboration with farmers, scientists, practitioners, and a diverse group of employees across the General Mills family. Following the launch of Version 1.0 in 2018, they spent 15 months piloting the inaugural version in their own supply chain while collecting feedback from farmers, scientists, and other stakeholders. They hosted farmer feedback round-tables across the U.S. to engage 140 farmers who helped hone the content of the self-assessment so it can be useful to a variety of farmers across diverse agricultural systems.
HOW THEY ARE USING THE SELF-ASSESSMENT AT GENERAL MILLS
They are implementing the tool with key General Mills suppliers to empower farmers at the foundation of their supply chain to explore how their practices align with regenerative agriculture principles. They are also using the tool to track progress against our commitment to advance regenerative agriculture on one million acres by 2030.
In addition to this tool, they are developing robust scientific methodologies for measuring and researching the outcomes associated with regenerative agriculture. You can learn more about this and their other efforts on their Regenerative Agriculture Webpage. While the research on outcomes continues, they recognize the importance of assessing agricultural practices as a proxy for farm-level impact.
To honor the privacy of participating farmers, General Mills will keep all data attributable to individual operations strictly confidential.
They welcome feedback and look forward to iterating on this tool over time as they continue their journey to advance regenerative agriculture. If this tool can be useful for your operation or supply chain, they encourage you to use it. They'd love to hear about your experience!
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