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Driving regeneration in agriculture

Driving regeneration in agriculture

North AmericaSustainabilityTop Stories

In 2016, Walmart announced its commitment to sustainably source at least 20 key commodities by 2025. Building on that work, in 2020, it embarked on its journey to go beyond sustainability and become a regenerative company, dedicated to placing nature and humanity at the centre of its business.

Regeneration means restoring, renewing and replenishing, in addition to conserving and sustaining. And as part of that aim, it has committed to protect, manage or restore at least 50 million acres of land by 2030. Across its business, associates have been working with its suppliers and partners to develop tangible ways to make progress toward these goals.

As Walmart sought to drive regeneration in agriculture, it knew it had to focus on food staples like wheat, corn, soy and rice. These crops are foundational to the health and nutrition of its customers and communities. Rice, for example, is the primary staple for more than half the world’s population, and corn is the most widely produced feed grain in the US.

As a next step in this journey, Walmart and Sam’s Club released its new Row Crop Position Statement at its Sustainable Row Crop Summit, outlining farming and reporting best practices for its row crop suppliers. It believes these best practices will help its suppliers and its partners transition to a more sustainable and regenerative future in agricultural production. Some of the practices Walmart recommends include soil and nutrient management, integrated pest management, water management and land management.

Its bold row crop ambitions require new ways of farming, and recognise that best practices will vary and depend on the geography farmers are in. That’s why its Row Crop Position Statement emphasises the need for place-based solutions. In practice, this means protecting multiple resources in an area, engaging diverse stakeholders and promoting holistic and innovative strategies for improvement.

As a retailer, it recognises that it must work together to achieve a more sustainable, regenerative future. With this collective mindset to guide it, Walmart has spent the last five years working with the Midwest Row Crop Collaborative (MRCC): a unique partnership of retailers, suppliers and non-profits focused on incubating and implementing solutions to today’s most challenging agricultural issues. MRCC helps farmers in the US heartland adopt farming practices that can reduce emissions, improve soil health and water quality and boost farm resilience and profitability. At Walmart’s Sustainable Row Crop Summit, it convened some of its fellow MRCC members to share progress on MRCC’s work to develop place-based initiatives for Midwest row crop producers. It also announced three new 2030 goals that reflect its shared ambition for a more regenerative agricultural system.

Walmart will track progress toward these goals through Project Gigaton, Walmart’s initiative to avoid 1 billion metric tons of emissions (one gigaton) from its global value chain by 2030, with the help of its suppliers.

Finally, at the summit it announced that, in August of this year, the Walmart Foundation provided funding to the University of Minnesota Foundation to help create a new Sustainable Protein Scaling Initiative. This initiative will develop a pathway to scale climate-smart farming practices in the Upper Midwest, by driving the adoption of emerging crops whose production is associated with better soil health.

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