General Mills Delves in Soil Health Research

A project aimed to demonstrate power of organic oats to build soil, and capture carbon is developed by Cascadian Farm, a pioneer in the organic food movement, and its parent company General Mills.

General Mills announced a five-year USD125k contribution to Grain Millers to support soil health research on oat farms in the Upper Midwest. Research findings and best practices will be shared at field day events to help advance environmental and economical outcomes for farmers.

“We continue to make investments to advance the organic movement and strengthen our supply chain,” said Carla Vernón, president of the Annie’s operating unit. “We hope this project allows us to generate data to show that implementing regenerative agriculture practices results in improved outcomes — including economic resiliency and long-term benefits for farmers.”

Annie’s Inc., has just released two new limited-edition products, Honey Bunny Grahams and Elbow Pasta and Cheddar, which want to highlight the fact that regenerative farming practices used to produce the ingredients could help fight climate change by sequestering carbon in the soil.

“I think that’s a first in the industry: to offer a product on such wide distribution, available from a major manufacturer in the center of the store, where the family that’s about to enjoy the product can name the farmer, name the farm, and know the ingredients that are specific in that product that are using these very Earth-friendly practices,” Carla Vernon, president of Annie’s, told

As part of this program, Grain Millers will identify farmers who have successfully built soil, as well as farmers who are just beginning that journey. The aim is to learn from farmers who have successfully built soil.
Steve Eilertson, president of Grain Millers, says “We see oats as a critical part of returning the health to our nation’s soils and we’re thrilled to support this program.”

The pilot program includes organic oat farms in the Upper Midwest. The research team will work with farmers to help demonstrate the impact of regenerative agricultural systems in organic oats farming including cover crops, no-till, and crop rotation practices.

General Mills recently built a regenerative agriculture scorecard to support projects of this type, and is encouraging brands to build pilots that show the potential of regenerative agriculture to contribute to a resilient planet.

“Together with Grain Millers, we plan to pilot a practical approach to implementing our regenerative agriculture framework, the impact of implementing the framework and how to reasonably scale it,” said Jerry Lynch, chief sustainability officer at General Mills.

Cascadian Farm joined General Mills in 2000 as the company’s first organic brand.  Soil health is a growing focus for General Mills sustainability efforts. General Mills has contributed more than USD3m to partners advancing soil health on U.S. agricultural lands, according to the company.

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