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09/03/2021

Walmart introduces new agriculture sustainability best practices

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Walmart is driving regeneration in its agricultural supply chain.

Walmart is stepping up its efforts to become a regenerative company with a new focus on how row crops in its supply chain are farmed.

In September 2020, Walmart announced a new commitment to becoming a regenerative company - an organization that works to restore, renew and replenish in addition to preserving the planet. As part of its regenerative goals, Walmart has committed to sustainably sourcing at least 20 key commodities by 2025.

As a next step in this effort, Walmart and Sam's Club are releasing a new Row Crop Position Statement, outlining farming and reporting best practices for row crop (e.g., wheat, corn, soy, rice) suppliers. Some of the practices the company recommends include soil and nutrient management, integrated pest management, water management and land management.

Walmart’s new row crop strategies require new ways of farming, and best practices will vary and depend on the geography farmers are in. Its Row Crop Position Statement emphasizes the need for place-based solutions, which means protecting multiple resources in an area, engaging diverse stakeholders, and promoting holistic and innovative strategies for improvement.

Walmart has also spent the last five years working with the Midwest Row Crop Collaborative (MRCC), a partnership of retailers, suppliers and nonprofits focused on incubating and implementing solutions to agricultural issues. MRCC helps farmers in the U.S. heartland adopt farming practices that can reduce emissions, improve soil health and water quality and boost farm resilience and profitability.

At its recent Sustainable Row Crop Summit, Walmart convened some of it fellow MRCC members to share progress on MRCC's work to develop place-based initiatives for Midwest row crop producers. Walmart also announced three new 2030 goals for a more regenerative agricultural system:

  1. Ensure that 30 million acres in the Midwest employ practices that support improved outcomes for soil health, greenhouse gases, water quality and use, biodiversity and farmer livelihoods. At least 1 million of these acres will demonstrate multiple measurable regenerative outcomes. 
  2. Reduce net on-farm greenhouse gas emissions in the Midwest row crop supply chain by 7 million metric tons.
  3. Directly support at least 30,000 Midwestern farm operations in the transition to regenerative agriculture.

Walmart will track progress toward these goals through Project Gigaton, the company’s initiative to avoid 1 billion metric tons of emissions (one gigaton) from the global value chain by 2030, with the help of its suppliers.

At the summit, Walmart also announced that, in August 2021, the Walmart Foundation provided funding to the University of Minnesota Foundation to help create a new Sustainable Protein Scaling Initiative. This initiative will develop a pathway to scale climate-smart farming practices in the Upper Midwest, by driving the adoption of emerging crops whose production is associated with better soil health.

“Whether through philanthropic investments, new corporate commitments, or promoting agricultural best practices, Walmart is committed to driving action toward a more sustainable, regenerative future,” said John Laney, senior VP, general merchandise manager, packaged goods, Walmart, in a corporate blog post. “We firmly believe that if we all work together – associates, suppliers, farmers and consumers – we can keep healthy food on the table, while renewing and restoring our planet.”