General Mills has launched a three-year regenerative dairy pilot in western Michigan, a key sourcing region for its fluid milk supply.
General Mills – the maker of Yoplait, Liberté and Mountain High yogurt products – has partnered with consultants Understanding Ag and dairy cooperative Foremost Farms to pilot regenerative practices and provide support to participating dairy farmers.
Implementing regenerative practices on dairy farms requires a holistic approach to managing land, cows and manure.
This is the third regenerative agriculture pilot that the company has launched – and the first for its dairy ingredient supply – since making a commitment in 2019 to advance regenerative agriculture practices on 1 million acres of farmland by 2030.
“In order for regenerative agriculture to be successful, it must first be economically viable for farmers as a lever to help build operational and financial resilience,” said Mary Jane Melendez, Chief Sustainability and Social Impact Officer at General Mills.
“With this pilot, General Mills is committed to ensuring that the transition to regenerative practices will be beneficial to our dairy partners and enhance the overall health of their farms.”
The three dairy farms in the pilot, which collectively manage more than 14,000 acres, were chosen for their proximity to General Mills’ dairy manufacturing facility in Reed City, Michigan, which produces a variety of Yoplait products.
As the pilot begins, Understanding Ag consultants will meet with each dairy farmer to co-develop and implement custom regenerative management plans for a portion of their operation.
Throughout the pilot, partners will monitor data and measure impacts to soil, biodiversity, water, animal well-being and farm profitability.
“As an industry, dairy farms have been especially hard hit in recent months and their resiliency is being tested. We believe regenerative agriculture builds and strengthens farmer resilience so they can better withstand pressures, be it societal, financial or environmental,” said Doug Martin, president of the General Mills US yogurt business.
“Consumers increasingly want to support brands and companies they trust are acting as environmental stewards.
“This pilot with Yoplait is a great example of the role our brands can play in unleashing the scale of our supply chain – supporting farmers, promoting animal welfare, and improving the health of the planet, all while delivering a great-tasting product.”