Tuesday Walmart held its very first Sustainable Product Expo at the Arkansas headquarters and the company was joined by numerous CEO’s of global companies to explore what’s really being done to make sustainability more than just a buzzword. Walmart secured commitments from those companies to accelerate innovation in sustainable agriculture and recycling.
“Our commitment today is focusing on more effective use of nutrients, initially on a million acres to improve the efficiency of nutrient use,” said Hugh Grant, Chairman and CEO of Monsanto. “We’re also looking at better use of water. In farming the scary thing is you can never predict the weather but you really can manage your inputs and you can manage the effectiveness of how you look after that soil for the next generation. That’s our optimistic view of what can be done in agriculture going forward.”
Rick Smith, President and CEO of Dairy Farmers of America said strategies implemented ten years ago have led to an improvement in dairy sustainability.
“So now we are regularly engaged talking about animal care and wellness, pesticide use, fertilizer strategies, water conservation, employee relations, energy, and we’re making as an industry tremendous progress.”
Smith committed that DFA will have more than 90 percent of its 9,000 member farms participating in its Gold Standard Dairy program by 2020. The program focuses on resource efficiency and optimization.
Greg Page, Executive Chairman of the Board at Cargill expressed optimism that the challenges of feeding a much larger world population can be met.
“We can do it safely, we can do it affordably, which is important, and we can do it sustainably. I think in conjunction with Hugh and other organizations we can do it on the same, or a very small increase in the amount of acres that we use today. So the footprint that agriculture asks of our planet does not need to expand in order to serve those needs, but we can only do that with the kind of behaviors and collaborations that we’re hopefully here to talk about today and accelerate.”
Cargill will launch the next generation of its NextField precision agriculture platform, which will have the capability to analyze hundreds of factors for farmers’ fields, giving them more precision to make agronomic decisions. By 2020 Cargill will double its NextField acres bringing them to more than 1 million acres of total land being optimized for maximum productivity with minimum environmental impact.
Also presenting Tuesday were representatives from Coke and Pepsi, General Mills, Kelloggs and Campbell Soup. Read more about their commitments here.