SPRINGDALE, Ark. – Tyson Foods Inc. announced on Jan. 15 that it is working with the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) to enhance sustainability initiatives by the company and its producer partners.

“If the largest US food company can prove the viability of farming practices that are good for the planet and for profits, it would be a game changer,” said Jenny Ahlen, director of the EDF+Business supply chain program. “We’re using scientific analysis to measure the benefits of sustainable farming practices, help companies like Tyson evaluate the impact of their sustainability initiatives, and inspire transparency across the supply chain.”

The partnership’s first project will work on land stewardship. Tyson and the EDF plan to scale agriculture practices on 500,000 acres of corn that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve water quality and maximize farmer profitability. Tyson plans to meet its land stewardship goal of improving environmental practices across 2 million acres of corn production by 2020 with the help of EDF.

“Developing a sustainable food system is important to our business and the planet,” said Justin Whitmore, vice president of continuous improvement and chief sustainability officer at Tyson Foods. “Joining forces with EDF enables us to bring together the best of our joint expertise in supply chains and sustainable agriculture, and deliver value to growers, businesses and the environment.” 

Cloud-based technologies from MyFarms and Farmers Business Network (FBN) will be used in the pilot program. Both services collect information on agricultural production practice. They also provide insights from the analysis of that data and will inform sustainability practices.

“Farmers are the most important stewards of the land, and it’s vital they have tools and markets to farm sustainably and be profitable doing so,” said Charles Baron, co-founder of Farmers Business Network. “FBN is committed to finding new opportunities for crop farmers to develop markets for sustainable practices.”

My Farms and FBN will enroll farmers into the initial project. FBN will provide this opportunity to its 7,600 members, who own almost 30 million acres. Farmers enrolled in MyFarms can also work with the partnership to pilot a new scientific method, based on scientific research compiled by EDF, for calculating nitrogen loss.

“MyFarms believes that farmers have both the desire and the opportunity to learn from one another,” said Chris Fennig, managing director of MyFarms. “We also recognize the value of their long-term business relationships, so we’ve built a set of cloud-based tools that enable advisors to better inform their farmer clients about opportunities to improve economic and environmental outcomes at the farm gate."