Bel Brands USA partnered with Land O’Lakes, Inc. on a 3-year pilot program to support the adoption of sustainable farming and animal feed production methods to improve soil health and reduce greenhouse gas emissions on one of its supplying dairy farms. Just one year later, the program has yielded meaningful results including a carbon sink of 784 pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent per acre per year and acknowledgment of its potential scalability by receiving the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy Outstanding Supply Chain Collaboration Award. In 2022, the program is expected to expand to include five additional farms ranging in size from 450 to 2,000 cows.
“Our partnership with Land O’Lakes and dairy farmers exemplifies our unwavering commitment to sustainability. We want to be the best possible partners to dairy farmers in their efforts to make the dairy industry more sustainable and conserve the planet’s resources across all areas of the supply chain and all brands in the Bel Brands portfolio, including family favorites such as Babybel, The Laughing Cow and Boursin,” says Brian Zook, Director of Milk Sourcing and Sustainability at Bel Brands U.S.A. “We are honored to receive the Outstanding Supply Chain Sustainability Award from U.S. Dairy for this program. Such a prestigious award from a leading industry organization is further proof that this program is the future of sustainable changes in the dairy farming industry.”’
Land O’Lakes dairy farmer-owner and Bel Brands milk supplier Boadwine Dairy in South Dakota was the pilot location for the first year of this program. Fourth-generation farmer Lynn Boadwine has been working to improve sustainable farming practices for over a decade, “the more I learn about soil health, the more I see that I need to learn. But not every farmer is in a position to invest in testing and learning, so support from partners like Land O’Lakes and Bel Brands further up the supply chain is critical,” said Boadwine.
The multi-year program is one of the first designed with input from key stakeholders across the supply chain: a leading CPG brand and farmer-owned cooperative with a cutting-edge sustainability tool. This collaboration ensures a program that is accessible and scalable for farms of all sizes with traceability and data measurement through the Truterra™ sustainability tool.
The Truterra sustainability tool is a conservation data platform to benchmark, track and evaluate changes in Nutrient Utilization Efficiency (NUE), soil erosion, soil quality, and greenhouse gas emissions over the course of three years. The Truterra sustainability tool delivers field-by-field, acre-by-acre performance data covering profitability, sheet and rill erosion, wind erosion, soil quality trend, net GHG, nitrogen use, and an overall sustainability score.
“As a farmer-owned cooperative, Land O’Lakes has taken a leadership position in supporting on-farm sustainability that provides market opportunities for our farmer and retail owners,” said Corey Scott, Truterra Livestock Services Lead. “We’re grateful food manufacturers like Bel Brands USA are showing a willingness to invest in on-farm sustainability projects, and we remain committed to providing programs, tools, and support that not only contribute to the health of the planet but also position farmers and the agriculture sector for success.”
Both Bel Brands USA and Land O’Lakes, Inc. are focused on sustainability as a business priority. In early 2022, Bel committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions throughout the entire value chain by 1 quarter, between 2017 and 2035. Similarly, Land O’Lakes committed that all dairy farmer-owners will complete an intensive on-farm sustainability assessment by 2025.
In addition to expanding the program to five more Land O’Lakes member dairy farms, the plans for the 2022 program will include a non-dairy cooperative that produces feed for dairy cows. This inclusion of a company at another step in the supply chain aims to further prove the scalability of the program.