Danone North America Puts a Stake in the Ground with Commitment to Regenerative Agriculture and Soil Health Research Collaboration with Renowned Research Partners
Brings together a ‘dream team’ of expertise in the study of soil health, applicable to all agricultural systems in The Dannon Pledge portfolio of brands
White Plains, NY (March 7, 2018) – Today, Danone North America puts a stake in the ground launching a ground-breaking soil health initiative with renowned experts and academics to build best-in-class soil health programs to benefit our farms and communities. The company shared an ambition to commit up to $6M for the research program over the next five years. This program will begin with products involved in The Dannon Pledge, and may have impact in the future across the Danone North America portfolio. The Dannon Pledge is the company’s commitment to a range of progressive practices focused on sustainable agriculture, transparency and naturality, and enables the company to offer consumers more yogurt choices. The flagship brands that are leading with Non-GMO Project verification as part of The Dannon Pledge include Dannon®, Oikos® and Danimals®. Dannon is part of Danone North America. To learn more about The Dannon Pledge, visit ExpoWest Booth 513 or dannonpledge.com.
“Soil is the foundation of our food system, with an estimated 95 percent1 of food directly or indirectly reliant on soil.” said Ryan Sirolli, Agriculture Director, Danone North America. “As America’s largest yogurt maker, we saw an opportunity to initiate this breakthrough research program with our supply chain. When we announced our Pledge, we committed to championing sustainable agriculture, which includes reaching for better soil health. We will evaluate soil on the farms of growers who provide feed for cows and on the dairy farms where we buy milk. The long-lasting relationships we have with our growers and dairy farmers, who have a passion for change and strive for continuous improvement, have empowered us to launch this program. We know this work requires collaboration to make a meaningful impact, and we are excited to bring together uniquely skilled partners to help us to continue to fulfill our ambition.”
Danone North America will be advancing its soil health research program over the next 18 months. The aim of the soil health initiative is to identify ways to help regenerate soils, looking at enhancing organic matter and soil fertility with long-term benefits such as soil carbon sequestration, reduced chemicals use, soil water holding capacity, biodiversity and economic resilience of farmer communities. Key activities with participating grower and dairy farmer partners and third-party soil health experts will include soil sampling, review of yield, grower engagement, data collection and analysis, first reports and field days with farmers to provide training around soil health best practices.
“A priority on my farm is stewardship of the land. When we steward the soil well, we have better yields and we help mother nature. I am looking forward to working with Danone North America to continue to improve soil health, and I am excited to look at the outcomes of this research program to consider how it impacts my farm and our practices,” said Rick Clark, a grower of Non-GMO Project Verified feed for the supply chain that supports brands involved in The Dannon Pledge at Clark Land and Cattle in Williamsport, Indiana.
The partners Danone North America is announcing today are:
- Dr. Rattan Lal and the Carbon Management and Sequestration Center at The Ohio State University will lead soil sampling across a set of grower and dairy farmer partners. The team will analyze the samples and provide data for analysis. The team will then look at the data to identify practices to help increase the carbon intake of soil.
- Dr. Harold van Es and the soil health team at Cornell University will partner on soil health analysis for the program. The team will use results to make recommendations to be implemented over the next five years with an aim to improve soil health with participating grower and dairy farmer partners.
- EcoPractices, working with EFC/Ag Solver as a service provider, will gather information from program partners to analyze and share reports that help to create an understanding of what the data means for many stakeholders – importantly, our farmer partners.
In addition to announcing partners for the soil health initiative, today Danone North America is also proud to join The Carbon Underground, Green America and other food companies to inform the design and development of a new global certification standard for food grown in a regenerative way. The soil health initiative and the company’s work to support The Carbon Underground are two important next steps in Danone North America’s overarching regenerative ambition. To learn more about The Carbon Underground, read the latest press release here.
“With all life beginning and ending in soil, there is urgency to promote agricultural practices that can help regenerate soils. As a soil scientist who has conducted research in this area for the last 50 years, I am privileged to work with Danone North America, a company that is setting an example for the private sector with a commitment to become carbon neutral,” said Dr. Rattan Lal, The Ohio State University. “The support of the private sector will ensure we can make changes on a significant scale. I hope that others will be inspired by this work and consider options for becoming involved.”
“Working with the private sector to tackle the question of how to improve soil health will help us make an impact at large scale,” said Dr. Harold van Es, Cornell University. “I’ve spent my career exploring opportunities to improve soil health, and I look forward to working with Danone North America and the soil health program research team to implement changes based on what we learn through the research.”
Finally, the company is exploring options to participate in the Regenerative Organic Alliance, a group working to develop a new standard, which will be known as Regenerative Organic Certification. The work with the Regenerative Organic Alliance would be complementary to the company’s continued commitment to the USDA Organic Standard through pioneering brands. Danone North America seeks to understand how this proposed certification can benefit our planet and farming communities through soil health, animal welfare, social fairness, and offer more choices for our consumers and our business.
For more information on these initiatives, please visit: here.
About Danone North America
Headquartered in White Plains, New York, and Broomfield, Colorado, the mission of Danone North America is to bring health through food to as many people as possible via its diverse offering of dairy and plant-based foods in high growth and evolving categories. The ambition of Danone North America is to produce healthful foods that create economic and social value and nurture natural ecosystems through sustainable agriculture. Every time we eat and drink, we vote for the world we want. And as the largest public benefit corporation in the US, Danone North America is taking bold steps for social good in North America. Danone North America is a subsidiary of Danone and more information is available at www.DanoneNorthAmerica.com.
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