KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI, US — ADM continues to expand its regenerative agriculture program in the United States and across the globe with grower meetings that allow farmers to interact with participating food manufacturers as both see benefits from the program.

Program enrollment for 2024 began in late June and closes Sept. 13. Grower meetings were scheduled in Mexico, Missouri, US, in July and in Hutchinson, Kansas, US, and St. Louis and Carthage, Missouri, US, in August. Grower meetings were held earlier in the year in Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri and Minnesota.

ADM’s Milling and Baking Solutions enrolled 550 US and Canadian wheat growers with nearly 600,000 acres in 2023, which was equivalent to 15% of ADM’s wheat grist across the two countries, according to the company.

ADM is expanding its regenerative agriculture program with a goal of enrolling 3.5 million acres in 2024 and 5 million acres globally by 2025. Global enrollment in 2023 included more than 28,000 growers and 2.8 million acres with new programs launched in Europe and Latin America. Crops include wheat, corn, sorghum, soybeans, canola, peanuts, barley and cotton. The regenerative farming practices focus on fertilizer efficiency, conservation tillage/no till, cover crops and living roots. Sorghum was added to ADM’s regenerative agriculture program in 2023.

At an ADM Regenerative grower meeting in Hutchinson earlier in the year, three farmers and two industry representatives shared views on their participation in the program.

Tim Wallenhorst, senior manager brand marketing at Nestle, and Juan Pablo Andrade, global procurement, regenerative agriculture, Grupo Bimbo, spoke about their companies’ participation and the benefits they perceive in the program.

A panel moderated by Keith Koch, ADM Climate Smart origination manager, included Kansas farmers Mark Pettijon, Solomon, Ben Amerin, Plains, and Daren Nelson, Windom.

Many farmers approach regenerative agriculture with a wary eye as they may not perceive an immediate benefit and don’t receive a higher price for their commodities, unlike organic commodities that generally command a higher price. Regenerative agriculture and organic farming aren’t interchangeable terms.

Organic farming must meet strict isolation, certification and other requirements/restrictions that result in more of a “free-from,” higher-value product for the consumer.

Regenerative agriculture could be viewed as a more holistic approach that benefits the farmer as much as the consumer. Benefits to farmers include improving soil health and biodiversity over time, reducing input costs almost immediately, water conservation and others. Greenhouse gas emissions are reduced, and the practices are friendly to the environment.

Many farmers point out that they have unofficially practiced regenerative agriculture for many years simply as good farming practices, but the regenerative agriculture initiatives from ADM and other companies formalize and measure the results.

Likewise, ADM and other companies engaged in regenerative agriculture programs with growers don’t charge food manufacturers more for products, such as wheat flour, that come through the process. And food manufacturers, such as Nestle and Grupo Bimbo that participated in the March grower meeting in Hutchinson, also don’t or can’t charge more for their finished products.

But products that come out of the regenerative agriculture process allow food manufacturers to begin to meet consumer expectations that increasingly include more sustainable and environmentally friendly practices starting at the grower level. They said such programs are allowing their companies to get ahead of higher consumer expectations.