corn field
SPRINGDALE, ARKANSAS, U.S. — Tyson Foods, Inc., one of the world’s largest food companies, is embarking on the largest-ever sustainable grain commitment by a U.S. protein company. The company earlier this month said it has committed to support improved environmental practices on 2 million acres of corn by the end of 2020. The initiative is part of Tyson Foods’ recently announced goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 30% by 2030.

Tyson said it believes the commitment will encourage grain farmers to adopt more efficient practices with fertilizers and take additional measures to reduce water runoff and soil loss.

“Each day our team members are defining what it means to achieve our aspiration of sustainably feeding the world,” said Justin Whitmore, executive vice-president of corporate strategy and chief sustainability officer at Tyson Foods. “This is a big step that is part of our ongoing and deepening commitment to environmental stewardship. We’ve made significant progress toward previously announced goals related to workplace safety and fully expect similar momentum with today’s land stewardship target.”

Although it does not own any grain farms, Tyson buys corn and soybeans to feed its poultry. The company also buys grain-fed cattle and hogs. Expectations are that the initiative will reduce greenhouse gas emissions generated by the company’s supply chain.

“The world needs a more sustainable food system, and we believe it’s up to big companies like ours to set the pace with bold goals that help protect the planet while also enabling us to feed a growing world,” said Tom Hayes, president and chief executive officer of Tyson. “We look forward to collaborating with grain farmers, environmental groups and others as we implement this new initiative.”

Tyson said it plans to work with at least one third-party organization on a program to encourage corn farmers to adopt practices that reduce fertilizer use and soil loss, as well as collaborate with environmental groups such as the Nature Conservancy and academic experts to reach its target.

“The Nature Conservancy would like to congratulate Tyson Foods on its ambitious targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in its own operations, support improved environmental practices on two million acres of cropland, and reduce the amount of water used to produce each pound of food,” said Scott Simon, Arkansas director of the Nature Conservancy. “We look forward to working with the company to implement these influential goals in some of the most critical supply chains and geographies for our conservation mission.”

The 2-million-acre target is enough land to grow corn to feed all of Tyson’s annual broiler chicken production, as well as a some of the pigs and cattle the company buys from independent farmers and ranchers.

Tyson purchases an increasing percentage of grain through its Local Grain Services program, which sources grain closer to where the birds are raised, reducing the energy use associated with transportation.

Earlier this month, Tyson’s Local Grain Services acquired three grain elevators from The Andersons, Inc. The elevators are located in Humboldt, Kenton and Dyer, Tennessee, U.S.