Mars’ task force will upscale regenerative farming

Mars has launched an action plan to scale regenerative farming globally to tackle impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss. This follows on from SMI Agribusiness Tack Force’s report ‘Scaling Regenerative Farming: an action plan’ which warns adoption rates of regenerative farming are far behind the rate needed to tackle climate change.

New analysis by Systemiq has revealed that regenerative farming must triple its rate of growth to ensure climate change is limited to a rise of 1.5 degrees. Regenerative farming needs to make up at least 40% of global cropland by 2030, from 15% today.

The Task Force, which was first launched in 2020, is calling for common metrics and market-based financial incentives, targeted government policy and an overhaul of food sourcing. Chaired by Mars CEO Grant Reid, it’s comprised of a range of agribusiness companies and organisations including Bayer, Mars, McCain Foods, Olam, and others.

“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,” said Grant Reid, Task Force Chair and Outgoing CEO at Mars.

“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,” he added.

Raw materials currently account for 70% of the business’ emissions, so scaling up regenerative agriculture in addition to preventing deforestation and land-use change will be vital in its work to reduce emissions.

The Task Force focused its work on three value chains – wheat in the US, basmati rice in India and potatoes in the UK – to identify key points which would be scaled to other crops with similar characteristics. It also details five key areas where it believes requires urgent action: Agree common metrics for environmental outcomes, build farmers’ income, create mechanisms to share the cost of transition with farmers, ensure government policy enables and rewards farmers, and develop new sourcing models.

The Force is due to continue its work into 2023 to drive these five big recommendations, and discussions with key stakeholders will take place this week at COP27 in Cairo.

“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,” said Andrew Morlet, CEO of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

“We look forward to continuing our collaboration with SMI Agribusiness Taskforce towards this shared mission of scaling regenerative food systems with farmers at the centre,” concluded Arne Cartridge, Interim Executive Director at The Food Collective.

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Caitlin Gittins
Editor, International Bakery
Tel: +44 (0) 1622 823 920

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