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General Mills Helps Transition 34,000 Acres into Organic Farmland
USAgNet - 03/08/2018

General Mills today announced a strategic sourcing agreement with Gunsmoke Farms LLC to convert 34,000 acres of conventional farmland to certified organic acreage by 2020. The farm, located west of Pierre, S.D., will grow certified organic wheat and other organic rotational crops. General Mills will use wheat grown on the farm to make Annie's pasta products, including its signature Mac and Cheese.

"Investing in such a big acreage transition is a first of its kind for General Mills and is another step in growing our organic supply chain," said John Church, chief supply chain officer at General Mills. "We continue to seek ways to partner with land owners to make organic ingredients more accessible for existing and innovative new foods that our consumers have grown to expect."

In 2016, General Mills announced a similar transition agreement with Organic Valley, the largest organic cooperative in the U.S., to help dairy farms convert to organic dairy production.

As part of this agreement, General Mills has partnered with Midwestern Bio Ag (MBA) to provide on-the-ground mentorship for the farm operators to advance leading regenerative soil management practices such as no till, crop rotation and cover cropping. Healthy soil is showing potential to sequester carbon and regenerate the land.

In addition to healthy soil, pollinators are critical to sustain the ecosystems on which our food and lives depend. But their habitats are under threat. Agricultural landscaping can increase biodiversity and help a variety of pollinators, including bumble bees, squash bees, honey bees and butterflies. Upwards of 3,000 acres of pollinator habitat will be planted throughout Gunsmoke Farms in cooperation with the Xerces Society. Such habitat can also improve water quality, reduce soil erosion and protect game and songbirds.

General Mills has made sizeable investments to meet growing consumer interest in natural and organic foods. Today, General Mills is the third largest U.S. producer of natural and organic foods with brands including Cascadian Farm, Muir Glen, Liberte and Annie's. The company expects its natural and organic portfolio in North America to reach $1.5 billion in net sales by 2020.

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