WHITE PLAINS, NY – The regenerative agriculture program launched five years ago by Danone North America now covers 144,771 acres and 75% of the company’s dairy milk volume.
Danone North America shared the figures while announcing the year five results of the multi-million-dollar program. The company said 2.4 billion pounds of dairy milk has originated from its regenerative agriculture program, with brands such as Oikos, Two Good, Horizon Organic, Silk and others using that milk for their products.
Established in 2017, the program involves farming practices that help protect soils, water and biodiversity, and improve animal welfare. The certified B Corp company said its regenerative approach also is designed to provide farms with improved, long-term economic resilience through improving organic matter in soils to increase carbon sequestration and improve yields. These practices reduce chemical use, restore biodiversity and enhance soil water holding capacity, the company pointed out.
"Danone North America recognizes the potential of regenerative agriculture to serve as an impactful tool in our fight against climate change, and as a company, have committed to advancing these practices both within our farmer partner network and more broadly within the industry," said Jennifer Simpson, director of agriculture, Danone North America. "By providing tailored, climate-smart agriculture resources and support to our farmers, we are helping to establish lasting impact, both economically and environmentally."
Sustainable Environmental Consultants works with the company to analyze the sustainability practices at use within the program to help make continuous improvements for the farms involved.
Sustainable Environmental Consultants’ president, Sara Crawford, said the collaboration is helping establish “a best-in-market sustainability baseline and driving outcomes that provide learnings across the entire farming ecosystem."
Danone North America identified the following as highlights of its year five assessment:
• Regenerative management practices on dairy farms reduced 51,200 tons of CO2e, equivalent to the average annual energy use of over 5,000 American homes and sequestered more than 14,227 tons of carbon.
• 70% of all dairy buildings in the program have been upgraded to LED lighting.
• Farmers placed cover crops on 69% of the program's acreage (national average for cover cropping is only 5%). Plus, 370,963 tons of natural manure fertilizer and 516 million gallons of natural manure effluent were applied – that reduced the need for synthetic fertilizers and avoided $7.3 million in costs.
• The farms in the program grew more than 30 species of cover and cash crops, promoting biodiversity.
• One farm involved, McCarty Family Farms, in Rexford, Kan., in year five reused 20 million gallons of water extracted by its milk condensing plant for irrigation needs.
• Danone North America is working directly with farmers in the program to develop approaches suited to each farm. Farmers are able to identify areas of need and access funding and resources.
The USDA recently granted the company $70 million in funds to advance climate-smart agriculture. Danone North America shared that money will be applied across on-farm projects in the program.