Home NewsEnvironmental Global More companies commit to global water stewardship AgWater Challenge

More companies commit to global water stewardship AgWater Challenge

Ceres and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) have announced that Target, a general merchandise retailer with more than 1,800 stores, and Archer Daniels Midland Company, one of the world’s largest agricultural processors and food ingredient providers, have joined the AgWater Challenge.

The two companies’ new water stewardship commitments were announced at the Financial Times Water Summit in London yesterday. Target, the second-largest department store retailer in the United States and a member of the S&P 500, is the first retailer to join the Challenge.

Ceres and WWF first launched the AgWater Challenge in 2016 to encourage better water stewardship among the world’s most influential food and beverage companies. Target and ADM join seven participating companies who have made commitments to better protect freshwater resources in their agricultural supply chains.

With the global food sector using 70% of the world’s freshwater supply, food and beverage companies play an important role in protecting water quality and quantity.

“We welcome Target and ADM’s new commitments to reduce their water impacts,” said Eliza Roberts, a senior manager at Ceres, “We encourage more companies to take action to go further faster in their efforts to preserve and protect freshwater resources for generations to come.”

“As human demand for water grows—particularly for agriculture, the pressures on critical freshwater ecosystems also grow,” said Lindsay Bass, manager of Corporate Water Stewardship at WWF. “When companies like Target and ADM embrace water stewardship across their agricultural supply chains, they set the stage for others to follow. With more of the food value chain represented in the AgWater Challenge, participating companies can now better leverage, scale and build meaningful projects in the places that need it most.”

By adding a major food retailer operating in every U.S. state and a global food processing conglomerate, the AgWater Challenge significantly increases the acreage farmed with water stewardship in mind.

Target commitments

As the first retailer to join the AgWater Challenge, Target’s commitments to improve water stewardship include:

  • Promoting sustainable water management in California as an active member of the California Water Action Collaborative, and by engaging collectively with other companies to support public policies that advance resilient water solutions through Ceres’ Connect the Drops campaign.
  • Collaborating with suppliers through the Field to Market Fieldprint Platform to address soil health issues, developing time-bound, measurable goals to improve soil health across corn and soy acres and ensure progress on water quality is made by reducing agricultural runoff in the Mississippi River Basin.
  • Supporting future development of small grains and cover crops grown in rotation with corn and soybeans, as part of a collaboration with Practical Farmers of Iowa and Sustainable Food Lab. The project seeks to develop a market solution for climate and water protection in the Corn Belt and engage key supply chain partners on associated feasibility studies.

Jennifer Silberman, vice president, corporate responsibility, Target commented:

“These new commitments align with our goals of creating healthy ecosystems and improving sustainable water management.”

ADM commitments:

With a global value chain that includes approximately 500 crop procurement locations, 270 food and feed ingredient manufacturing facilities, 44 innovation centers and the world’s premier crop transportation network, ADM has made several time-bound measurable commitments to address water quality challenges across their value chain. ADM’s commitments to improve water stewardship include:

  • Ensuring that by 2022 at least 10 percent of U.S. wheat processing volume comes from farmers who are measuring and monitoring the environmental footprint of their farming practices. Through these Field to Market projects, the company will establish a baseline and work with Agrible and growers to increase acres using cover crops and alternative tilling practices by 25 percent each.
  • Incentivizing participation in the Illinois Saving Tomorrow’s Agriculture Resources (STAR) program, a farmer certification program aligned with the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy. As a part of this program, ADM seeks to have a minimum of 50 farmers in the region surrounding its Decatur processing facility complete the STAR survey in 2018. By 2028, it seeks to have farmers representing 50 percent of acres enrolled in this program earning 3 out of 5 stars and 25 percent earning the maximum number of stars.
  • Providing educational and financial support to all farmers that participate in these projects across corn, soy and wheat acres. This includes direct financial incentives for all farmers, as well as a grant to the local Soil and Water Conservation Districts to support education efforts and adoption of conservation practices.

“At ADM, sustainable practices and a focus on environmental responsibility aren’t separate from our primary business: they are integral to the work we do every day to serve customers and create value for shareholders,” said Alison Taylor, ADM’s Chief Sustainability Officer. “Everything we do starts with growers and participating in the AgWater Challenge presents us with a great opportunity to influence growing practices and make a tangible difference in water conservation practices for years to come.”

Target and ADM join seven companies already participating in the AgWater Challenge including Diageo, General Mills, Hain Celestial Group, Inc., Hormel Foods, Kellogg Company, PepsiCo, and Danone North America (formerly WhiteWave Foods).

Since committing to advance their sustainable water sourcing strategies in 2016, the original AgWater Challenge companies have made significant strides in engaging with farmers and suppliers across their value chain, sourcing responsibly, and reducing their overall exposure to water risks.

As part of the AgWater Challenge, companies also pledge greater transparency about the success of commitments, their ability to drive more resilient production systems and positive impacts they have made in freshwater basins.

The nine AgWater Challenge participants represent over $264 billion in annual revenue. Through the Challenge, the companies have made over 25 commitments related to strengthening water stewardship within their supply chains.

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