A group of the world’s largest and most influential agri-business companies and organisations has this week launched an action plan to scale regenerative farming globally to tackle the impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss.
The Agribusiness Task Force report, which is part of the Sustainable Markets Initiative (SMI), warns that adoption rates are currently lagging far behind the rate needed to effectively tackle climate change.
Fresh analysis by Systemiq has revealed that regenerative farming – while expanding its footprint over recent years – must triple its rate of growth to deliver against the world’s need to limit climate change to 1.5°C.
The report states that it needs to make up at least 40% of global cropland by 2030, up from around 15% today.
The taskforce calls for common metrics and market-based financial incentives for environmental outcomes; targeted government policy; and an overhaul of food sourcing – all to make regenerative agriculture a ‘no brainer’ business decision for farmers.
The taskforce comprises executives from many of the world’s largest and most influential agri-business companies and organisations: Bayer; HowGood; Indigo Agriculture; Mars; McCain Foods,; McDonald’s; Mondelez; Olam; PepsiCo; Sustainable Food Trust; Waitrose & Partners; and Yara International.
Taskforce chair and outgoing Mars CEO, Grant Reid said: “These are unprecedented times with supply chains under enormous pressure and the impacts of climate change all too real.
“Regenerative farming is a critical part of the solution, and our report shows all too clearly that – despite pockets of great work – adoption rates are far too slow as the short-term economic case for change is not compelling enough for farmers.
“As an industry, we need to address these areas with urgency if we are to hit our net zero commitments and protect against future supply-chain disruption.”
Regenerative farming is an approach that aims to build soil health and fertility, sequester carbon and reduce emissions, enhance watershed quality and increase biodiversity while also improving farmer livelihoods and resilience.
The taskforce focused its work on three specific value chains (wheat in the US, basmati rice in India and potatoes in the UK), with a view to identifying learnings that could be scaled to other crops and geographies with similar characteristics.
It details five key areas which it believes require urgent action to make the economics of regenerative farming more appealing to farmers. These are:
Agree common metrics for environmental outcomes;
Build farmers’ income from environmental outcomes such as carbon reduction and removal;
Create mechanisms to share the cost of transition with farmers;
Ensure government policy enables and rewards farmers for transition;
Develop new sourcing models to spread the cost of transition.
Sustainable Markets Initiative
Launched at The World Economic Forum 2020 Annual Meeting in Davos, and under the mandate of the Terra Carta, the Sustainable Markets Initiative’s mission is to build a coordinated global effort to enable the private sector to accelerate the transition to a sustainable future.
Andrew Morlet, CEO, Ellen MacArthur Foundation, commented: “It is very encouraging to see leading businesses coming together to agree on key actions they can take to support farmers in the transition to regenerative farming systems.
“Regenerating nature is a fundamental principle of the circular economy, and transforming the way in which we produce and consume food is one of the most powerful ways in which we can do this.
“Recognising the key role food design plays in creating the demand for regeneratively sourced ingredients is at the heart of our vision of circular design for food, and we are excited to see this included in the action plan.”
Werner Baumann, CEO, Bayer added: “As we speak, global food security is under threat and climate change is impacting an ever-growing number of communities around the world.
“To tackle these challenges at the same time, we need to accelerate the transition to a more sustainable and resilient global food system. As the report rightly points out, we can only achieve this if we as an industry collectively step up our efforts to adopt regenerative farming practices and drive sustainable innovation across the entire food value chain.”
Svein Tore Holsether, CEO, Yara International stated: “Soil has two essential tasks: To produce enough nutritious food and to store enough carbon. Let’s work together to create system-wide adoption of regenerative farming that not only improves soil fertility and structure, but positively affects nature and climate as a whole.”