116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
ADM and PepsiCo are partnering to expand regenerative agriculture practices across 2 million acres of cropland by 2030. Efforts in Iowa will focus around Cedar Rapids and Clinton, where ADM’s facilities are located.
Regenerative agriculture refers to farming practices that help restore the health and biodiversity of topsoil — in which most of the world’s food is grown.
A recent study discovered that the Midwest has lost 57 billion metric tons of topsoil over the last 160 years due to erosion. The loss makes soil productivity decline. Implementing more sustainable farming practices — like cover crops, diverse crop rotation and tillage reduction — can rejuvenate that topsoil while aiding water quality and mitigating climate change.
The 7.5-year agreement between ADM and PepsiCo will start by focusing on corn, soy and wheat farmers in Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas and Minnesota. Growers will receive incentives for implementing regenerative practices and will have access to regenerative farming networks, educational field days and environmental impact monitoring services.
ADM will lead the project by providing assistance and incentives to farmers, according to Paul Scheetz, the ADM Director of Climate Smart Ag Origination. PepsiCo will pay a set cost per acre each year to fund the practices on those acres. Participants will receive a cost-share that will be reviewed each year to reflect the implementation of regenerative agriculture practices on their land.
For efforts in Iowa, ADM and PepsiCo are partnering with Practical Farmers of Iowa — an extension of existing collaborations between the different organizations, said Sarah Carlson, the Practical Farmers of Iowa Senior Programs and Member Engagement Director.
While the exact amount of funding available from the partnership isn’t finalized yet, she said it will be enough to dramatically boost the amount of cover crops Practical Farmers of Iowa can help deploy. Last year, the organization helped farmers plant 100,000 acres of cover crops. This year, it’s on track to reach around 300,000 acres.
“(Iowa has) an ag system that is really good at growing a lot of corn and soybeans but not very good at protecting the environment,” Carlson said. “Cover crops are the No. 1 way that we can help reduce that pollution.”
While the regenerative agriculture project is focusing on the Midwest for now, there is possibility for future expansion.
“Building a better food system is essential to the future health of the earth and all of us,” said PepsiCo Chief Sustainability Officer Jim Andrew in a news release last week. “By enabling greater collaboration through strategic partnerships like this one, we can strengthen the livelihoods and resilience of the farmers we work with, while building a more sustainable future together.”
Reduction in greenhouse gas emissions
ADM and PepsiCo expect the project to eliminate 1.4 million metric tons of greenhouse gases by 2030 — but that’s just a drop in the bucket compared to their overall emissions.
Regenerative agriculture practices allow farmers to use less fertilizer, which requires a lot of energy to make. That production process releases greenhouse gases, as does the application of fertilizer to fields, Carlson said.
Both ADM and PepsiCo rely on agricultural products within their respective supply chains. By helping reduce total fertilizer usage, the companies can cut their cumulative emissions.
In 2021, ADM reported 82 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, and PepsiCo reported 63 million metric tons. These amounts include their direct emissions from their equipment, the indirect emissions produced for their energy needs, and the indirect emissions produced along their supply chains. Those emissions are dubbed Scope 1, Scope 2 and Scope 3 emissions respectively.
Both companies, which each have factories located in Cedar Rapids, have goals regarding greenhouse gas emissions.
ADM plans to reduce its Source 1 and Source 2 emissions by 25 percent by 2035. So far, those emissions have decreased by 6 percent from 2019 levels, according to ADM’s 2021 Corporate Sustainability Report. In 2021, the company announced an additional goal of a 25 percent reduction in its Source 3 emissions by 2035.
PepsiCo aims to reduce its Source 1 and Source 2 emissions by 75 percent by 2030. These emissions accounted for 7 percent of the company’s emissions footprint in 2021. The company also intends to reduce its Source 3 emissions, which represent the majority of its carbon footprint, by 40 percent by 2030.
However, in 2021, PepsiCo’s total emissions increased 3 percent from 2020 — representing a 2 percent jump from the 2015 baselines. These increases were attributed to increased packaging use, transportation, third-party manufacturing and overall business growth.
Brittney J. Miller is an environmental reporter for The Gazette and a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues.
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