ADM and PepsiCo team up on regenerative agriculture initiative

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/Iryna Imago
© GettyImages/Iryna Imago

Related tags pesticide GHG emissions regenerative ag Adm Pepsico

Last week saw two corporate giants come together to initiate a project aimed at significantly expanding regenerative agriculture practices across their shared North American supply chains.

ADM and PepsiCo launched their strategic partnership on September 14. It is expected to last over seven years and the goal it to enable regenerative agriculture approaches on up to two million acres by 2030.

The initiative will initially enroll corn, soy and wheat farmers, with the opportunity for future expansion - the goal is the integration of initiatives related to the use of cover crops, reduced tillage, enhaned nutrient management, diverse rotations as well as responsible pesticide use.

The partners said they plan to share resources and collaborate to create value throughout the supply chain by providing participants with technical and financial assistance, offering access to peer regenerative farming networks, hosting educational field days, and tracking results using trusted, third-party measurement systems.

As their capabilities span the food and agriculture value chains, ADM and PepsiCo said they believe this large-scale platform can accelerate US farmers’ transition to regenerative agriculture, while building their resilience to climate change.

In 2021, ADM additionally committed to a new, aggressive environmental goal to reduce Scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions 25% by 2035 while accelerating its target date to achieve a completely deforestation-free supply chain from 2030 to 2025.

The company has also committed to work with the Science Based Targets Initiative ​with the aim of obtaining approval of its climate targets and alignment with ambitious global goals to limit rising temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

We spoke to Paul Scheetz, director of climate smart ag origination at ADM, to find out more about the tie-up wtih PepsiCo.

FeedNavigator: Can you outline the roles of both ADM and PepsiCo in the project?

Paul Scheetz:​ ADM will lead this exciting regenerative agriculture project, including providing technical assistance and incentives to farmers, marketing, and data management. We’ll also make investments in infrastructure, technology, physical assets, and people. PepsiCo will pay a set cost per acre per year to fund the regenerative agriculture practices on those acres.

FEN: How do the partners define regenerative agriculture, and what work has ADM undertaken, to date, in this area?

PS:​ Regenerative agriculture practices employ tactics such as cover crops, reduced tillage, nutrient management and diverse rotations. These efforts can help achieve reduced Scope 3 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which are associated with a company’s supply chain, and support the health of soil, water, ecosystems, and surrounding biodiversity. Regenerative agriculture practices also allow for better carbon retention in the soil, and thus support carbon reduction goals.

Because our Scope 3 emissions come largely from the farming that happens upstream and from the ingredient processing that occurs by our customers downstream, it is necessary that we work collaboratively with growers and customers to help them reduce their GHG emissions and meet their own goals.

By the time this project’s goals are met, it is expected that 1.4 million metric tons of GHGs could be eliminated, which is equivalent to the amount of electricity used to power 275,000 homes per year. Our project believes in the effectiveness of regenerative agriculture to not only reduce carbon emissions, but also to allow the whole supply chain to become more efficient and to better manage environmental impacts.

To date, ADM has implemented regenerative agriculture projects that engage 750 producers across North America. We have engaged farmers that represent over 750,000 acres in sustainable agriculture, with more than 500,000 of those acres using specific regenerative agriculture practices.

Over the coming year, we aim to expand our regenerative agriculture support to cover one million acres across North America. To do this, we plan to enroll more than 1,000 growers in regenerative ag projects, which we expect to drive carbon reduction and sequestration of 300,000 metric tons.

FEN: Where will farmer enrollment begin?

PS:​ ADM will initially recruit corn, soy and wheat farmers across Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, and Nebraska, with the opportunity for future expansion.

The project aims to simplify processes so growers can focus more on executing regenerative agriculture practices rather than cumbersome data collection.  

FEN: What does the technical and financial assistance to incentivize farmers to sign up to the initiative involve?

PS:​ There are two different types of incentives that growers can receive for minimizing the footprint of their commodity production. Financial incentives often vary between $5 and $15 per acre, depending on the project focus and geography, while technical assistance commonly consists of education, outreach, peer networking and implementation expertise.

Climate-smart farming taking hold in the US

The ADM-PepsiCo development is in line with current trends in US farming, with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announcing millions in funding for climate-smart ag projects involving a raft of stakeholders last week.

The Biden-Harris administration, though the USDA, is investing up to US$2.8bn ​in 70 projects that address poultry, ruminant, and pork feed innovation along with methane emissions reduction in dairy production, among multiple other targets.

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