U.S. organic oat farmers receive research boost

by Eric Schroeder
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ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA, U.S. — Cascadian Farm and its parent company General Mills, Inc. are contributing $125,000 over the next five years to Eden Prairie, Minnesota, U.S.-based Grain Millers, Inc. to support soil health research on oat farms in the Upper Midwest of the United States. Findings from the research will then be used to help advance environmental and economical outcomes for farmers, Cascadian Farm said.

Carla Vernon president of Annies operation unit
Carla Vernón, president of the Annie’s operating unit

“We continue to make investments to advance the organic movement and strengthen our supply chain,” said Carla Vernón, president of the Annie’s operating unit. “We hope this project allows us to generate data to show that implementing regenerative agriculture practices results in improved outcomes — including economic resiliency and long-term benefits for farmers.”

The program will include organic oat farms in the Upper Midwest, and research teams will work with farmers to demonstrate the impact of regenerative agricultural systems in organic oats farming, including cover crops, no-till and crop rotation practices.

Grain Millers’ role in the program will include identifying farmers who have successfully built soil, as well as farmers who are looking to build soil. Ultimately, the companies aim to cultivate best practices with economic and social impacts to share among all farmers in the supply chain and partner to accelerate their path to soil health.

Steve Eilertson  president of Grain Millers Inc
Steve Eilertson, president of Grain Millers

“We’ve been a strong advocate within the organic movement for decades,” said Steve Eilertson, president of Grain Millers. “We see oats as a critical part of returning the health to our nation’s soils and we’re thrilled to support this program.”

Jerry Lynch, chief sustainability officer at General Mills, added, “Together with Grain Millers, we plan to pilot a practical approach to implementing our regenerative agriculture framework, the impact of implementing the framework and how to reasonably scale it. Our goal is to gain a better understanding of the economic and environmental impacts of healthy soil and identify hurdles that a proactive plan can address for farmers.”

General Mills acquired Cascadian Farm in 2000 as the company’s first organic brand.