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Image: General Mills
Anheuser-Busch partnership will produce more efficient rice-growing practices, while General Mills has committed to regenerate 1M acres of farmland by 2030.
Image credit: Budweiser
This week, Anheuser-Busch announced a partnership with Indigo
Agriculture — a company that works with growers to
improve profitability, environmental sustainability, and consumer health through
the use of natural microbiology and digital technologies — to advance
sustainable rice production.
Indigo has committed to delivering 2.2 million bushels of Indigo
Anheuser-Busch that is grown with specific environmental attributes. Growers
contracting with Indigo to produce rice for Anheuser-Busch will reduce water and
nitrogen used by 10 percent and achieve at least 10 percent savings in
greenhouse gas emissions compared to state benchmarks. This partnership is the
first of-its-kind to offer growers an end-to-end solution that incentivizes the
commercial production of sustainable rice.
“Anheuser-Busch is leading the food and beverage industry in meeting consumer
demand for sustainably-grown ingredients,” said David Perry, Indigo’s CEO.
“Indigo is leveraging its end-to-end, integrated approach to agriculture to
grow, capture and preserve the value of sustainably produced ingredients. We are
thrilled to partner with Anheuser-Busch, a company that shares our vision for
beneficial agriculture, to create meaningful value for the growing community and
higher quality options for consumers. By collaborating with leaders across the
supply chain, we’re conserving natural resources, preserving farmland for future
generations, and producing healthier final products.”
Anheuser-Busch buys rice from all over the US, and mills approximately 2.6
million pounds of rice a day at a company-owned facility in Jonesboro, Arkansas.
The brewer is the largest end user of rice in the US; the grain — which helps
provide a clean, crisp taste — has been part of the Budweiser recipe since
"Sustainability isn't just part of our business, it is our business. Partnering
with Indigo to source rice with unique environmental attributes rewards our
farming community for adopting sustainable agricultural practices and
incentivizes further innovation,” said Ingrid De Ryck, VP of Procurement and
Sustainability at Anheuser-Busch. “Most importantly, this trailblazing
collaboration supports three of Anheuser-Busch’s 2025 Sustainability
by advancing smart agriculture, watershed health and carbon-emissions
With Indigo’s microbial technology and data-driven agronomic support, growers
are able to improve rice yield while reducing the use of chemicals, irrigation
and fertilizers. Anheuser-Busch will leverage these capabilities to assure a
high-quality final product, meeting consumer demands for thoughtful sourcing and
preservation of the environment, while enabling growers to earn more for their
“Indigo’s field teams, data-collection tools and commitment to grower
profitability make them the ideal partner to source rice with lower
environmental impact,” said Jess Newman, Director of Agronomy for
Anheuser-Busch. “Beyond the sustainability gains, we are excited that this
partnership is a win-win for grower profitability. Growers can earn a premium
for progressive practices, save on water and nutrient input costs, and realize
yield increases due to the Indigo microbial seed treatment for rice. By creating
a market for rice grown with innovative practices, we are delighted to empower
and support our growers as they continue to move the industry forward on farm
A field of oats near Winnipeg, Manitoba destined for Cheerios. | Image credit: General Mills
Meanwhile, last week General Mills committed to advancing regenerative
agriculture practices on one million acres of farmland by 2030. The food giant
says it will partner with organic and conventional farmers, suppliers and
trusted farm advisors in key growing regions to drive the adoption of
regenerative agriculture practices. A contributor to climate change, the global
is estimated to account for roughly one-third of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
and 70 percent of water consumption.
“We have been feeding families for over 150 years and we need a strong planet to
enable us to feed families for the next 150 years,” said Jeff Harmening,
Chairman and CEO of General Mills. “We recognize that our biggest opportunity to
drive positive impact for the planet lies within our own supply chain, and by
being a catalyst to bring people together to drive broader adoption of
regenerative agriculture practices.”
is a holistic method of farming deploying practices designed to protect and
intentionally enhance natural resources and farming communities. These practices
focus on pulling carbon from the air and storing it in the soil, in addition to
helping the land be more resilient to extreme weather events. General Mills will
partner with key suppliers to drive adoption across key ingredients including
oats, wheat, corn, dairy feed and sugar
“Our first on-farm training and education academies will focus on North American
growers where we source high-quality oats for
Cascadian Farm, Nature Valley and Blue Buffalo,” said Jon Nudi,
president of North American Retail for General Mills.
General Mills is granting $650,000 to non-profit organization Kiss the
Ground to support farmer training and coaching
through Soil Health Academies, where growers will learn how to increase farm
profitability, build resiliency into the land and decrease input costs using
“Investing in soil health and regenerating our soils has numerous benefits
including water infiltration, reduced pest pressure, resilience to unpredictable
weather, and reducing greenhouse gasses,” said Lauren Tucker, executive
director of Kiss the Ground. “We have an opportunity to not just sustain our
natural resources, but to restore them for generations to come. We can only
advance the adoption of these practices that benefit people and the planet if we
partner with and support our farmers.”
This announcement builds upon General Mills’ commitment to improve soil health
and to reduce its absolute GHG
by 28 percent across its full value chain by 2025. The company has reported it
is nearly halfway to that goal, with its GHG emissions footprint down 13 percent
in 2018 compared to 2010.
General Mills also drives awareness of regenerative agriculture with consumers
through its brands. For example, in 2018, Annie’s launched two limited-edition
products with ingredients grown using
regenerative practices, and this year will offer two additional regenerative
agriculture products: Macaroni & Classic Cheddar and Shells & White
Cheddar. Cascadian Farm, in partnership with The Land Institute, is
working to commercialize organic
— a perennial grain whose 10-foot roots are able to capture carbon and water,
while preventing soil erosion. And EPIC Provisions is helping connect
mission-based companies to progressive livestock producers using regenerative
practices. Its Sweet & Spicy Sriracha Beef Bites product was the first
feature the Savory Institute Land to Market Ecological Verification Outcome
seal, which measures outcomes versus practices.
General Mills is leading the development of measurement science to connect
regenerative agriculture practices, such as
and cover cropping, to environmental and economic outcomes:
Healthy Soil: Carbon-rich, biologically active soil plays an essential
role in cleaning and storing water, supporting biodiversity and regulating
Above-Ground Biodiversity: Diversity in crop varieties, grazing animals,
wildlife and pollinators supports resilient ecosystems that can better
withstand disease, pests and climate fluctuations.
Farmer Economic Resilience: Regenerative agriculture practices can
strengthen whole-farm profitability and resilience over time.
Healthy soil is the foundation for regenerative agriculture and since 2015, the
company has invested more than $4 million to advance soil health initiatives.
Previous and ongoing examples of General Mills’ work include:
Development of The Soil Health
partnership with The Nature Conservancy, which outlines key steps to
achieve widespread adoption of soil health systems on more than 50 percent
of U.S. cropland by 2025. These efforts could deliver $50 billion in
societal benefits annually.
Development of a Regenerative Agriculture Self-Assessment tool to help
farmers understand how their practices influence soil health, biodiversity
and economic resilience.
A strategic sourcing agreement with Gunsmoke Farms
convert 34,000 acres of conventional farmland in South Dakota to
certified organic acreage, using regenerative agriculture practices, by
"We need companies like General Mills, who have the scale and commitment to
create sustainable agricultural systems," said Larry Clemens, North America
Region Agriculture Director for The Nature Conservancy. "Efforts to improve soil
health and enrich biodiversity are critical to addressing climate change and
other environmental challenges."
Published Mar 12, 2019 2am EDT / 11pm PDT / 6am GMT / 7am CET