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Hormel Foods to Invest in Carbon Sequestration, Air and Water Quality

Lead sponsor Hormel Foods joined by Target, MBOLD and The Nature Conservancy to advance the state’s latest regenerative agriculture project

Two agronomists, a farmer and a dog standing in a cover cropped farm field.
Reduced Tillage Low-till and no-till are among a suite of practices that can help farmers improve their soil health. © © Jason Whalen/Fauna Creative

Hormel Foods and Target, along with MBOLD, a coalition of Minnesota-based food and agriculture business leaders and innovators, have joined forces to support an innovative agriculture pilot project. The project will focus on advances in soil health practices to improve water and air quality, sequester greenhouse gases and increase farmland profitability. MBOLD served as the catalyst to bring the organizations together.

Collectively, Hormel Foods and Target will provide $1.7 million for farmers to participate in the pilot and adopt practices such as cover cropping, reduced tillage and nutrient management. The goal is to enroll up to 50,000 acres.

The pilot is part of the Ecosystem Services Market Consortium’s (ESMC) effort to launch a nationwide marketplace for agricultural carbon and water credits in 2022. Led by The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the Minnesota pilot is actively signing up farmers on a first-come, first-served basis. The program builds engagement with prospective purchasers of carbon and water credits to measure and demonstrate the impact of soil health practices on water, air and carbon sequestration.

“We will show how farmers, food companies and consumers can advance regenerative farming practices in a quantifiable and economical way,” said Leif Fixen, agriculture strategy manager for TNC in Minnesota. “There is increased demand across the supply chain for soil health practices as these changes are required to sustain our ag economy and environment into the future.”

Programs that make soil health practices more financially accessible to farmers are especially important as food systems across the globe become increasingly stressed. Widespread adoption of practices like edge-of-field, reduced tillage and cover crops has the potential to significantly improve air and water quality, carbon sequestration and, importantly, farm profitability.

The investments from Hormel Foods, the lead sponsor, and Target, a participating sponsor, will demonstrate how companies with shared supply chains can team up to accelerate the adoption of soil health practices. This benefits agricultural producers who want to make their operation more economically and environmentally sustainable as the corporate buyers source products from improved climate change practices.

“Hormel Foods is eager to support and engage with growers to accelerate the adoption of regenerative agriculture practices and help strengthen Minnesota’s economy, environment and quality of life,” said Mark Coffey, group vice president of supply chain for Hormel Foods. “We are committed to protecting water quality, reducing water use and improving our renewable energy sources, as we recognize the importance of these actions in helping to mitigate climate change.”

According to a report from TNC, Minnesota’s farms have the potential to sequester as much as 10.5 million metric tons of CO2e per year—the equivalent of taking more than two million cars off the road. That presents a big opportunity for both producers and credit buyers just in Minnesota.

As an ecosystem service market program, as opposed to strictly a carbon market, this effort also has the potential to improve the health of Minnesota’s rivers, lakes and streams. For example, cover crops have the potential to improve a farm’s water storage potential while reducing erosion and nutrient runoff—yet currently, only 4% of Minnesota farms are using them. This investment can help change that.

Bold commitments by industry leaders like Hormel Foods and Target are important for innovation in Minnesota’s agricultural sector. With more than half of the state’s lands in agricultural production and an annual economic impact of more than $112 billion, Minnesota’s farmers and ranchers are well-positioned to lead in markets focused on environmental sustainability.

“MBOLD helped unite participants across multiple sectors behind this important investment. By partnering across the value chain from grower to food company to retailer, we can support agricultural innovations that work for farmers, businesses and our environment,” said JoAnne Berkenkamp, managing director of the MBOLD coalition. “It’s a great example of how Minnesota leaders are working together to tackle major challenges facing food and agriculture.”

Other funding partners in the Minnesota pilot, which was launched by ESMC and The Nature Conservancy in 2020, include the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, and several other ag and conservation-focused organizations. The pilot provides a unique and low-risk pathway for farmers to explore carbon and other ecosystem service market payments as they implement new soil health practices. Trusted farm advisors, agronomists and conservation planners are actively assisting producers with enrollment in the program, as well as providing connection to resources and technical assistance. Interested farmers can visit acresforwater.com/ESMC to learn more and get connected with an enrollment specialist.

About the Ecosystem Services Market Consortium

Ecosystem Services Market Consortium (ESMC) is a non-profit collective action program dedicated to scaling quantified and verified sustainable ecosystem services from agriculture. ESMC is a public-private partnership of the agricultural supply chain and value chain—including agricultural producer groups and co-ops, major corporate food and beverage companies, agribusiness, conservation and environmental NGOs, ag tech companies, land grant universities and others. ESMC members have collectively invested in and launched ESMC’s national scale market program, Eco-Harvest, in May 2022. Read more at www.ecosystemservicesmarket.org.

 

About MBOLD

MBOLD is a coalition of Minnesota-based food and agriculture business leaders and innovators working collaboratively to accelerate solutions to the most pressing challenges facing food and agriculture, particularly our changing climate and other natural resources challenges, and growing global food demand. MBOLD member companies reach consumers in more than 125 countries around the world, and, taken collectively, revenues of MBOLD members are nearly $300 billion per year. MBOLD is an initiative of the GREATER MSP Partnership. Learn more at www.mbold.org.

 

About Hormel FoodsInspired People. Inspired Food.™

Hormel Foods Corporation, based in Austin, Minn., is a global branded food company with more than $11 billion in annual revenue across more than 80 countries worldwide. Its brands include Planters®, SKIPPY®, SPAM®, Hormel® Natural Choice®, Applegate®, Justin’s®, Wholly®, Hormel® Black Label®, Columbus®, Jennie-O® and more than 30 other beloved brands. The company is a member of the S&P 500 Index and the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats; was named on the “Global 2000 World’s Best Employers” list by Forbes magazine for three years; is one of Fortune magazine’s most admired companies; has appeared on Corporate Responsibility Magazine’s “The 100 Best Corporate Citizens” list for 12 years; and has received numerous other awards and accolades for its corporate responsibility and community service efforts. The company lives by its purpose statement—Inspired People. Inspired Food.™—to bring some of the world’s most trusted and iconic brands to tables across the globe. For more information, visit www.hormelfoods.com and http://csr.hormelfoods.com/.

 

About Target

Minneapolis-based Target Corporation (NYSE: TGT) serves guests at nearly 2,000 stores and at Target.com. Since 1946, Target has given 5% of its profit to communities, which today equals millions of dollars a week. For the latest store count or more information, visit Target.com/Pressroom. For a behind-the-scenes look at Target, visit Target.com/abullseyeview or follow @TargetNews on Twitter.

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 76 countries and territories: 37 by direct conservation impact and 39 through partners, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.