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McDonald’s working with The Nature Conservancy, Target and Cargill on sustainable beef

The $8.5 million project will help Nebraska farmers mitigate the risk of climate change in production of feed for beef cattle.
Photos courtesy of McDonald's

McDonald’s is working with Target, Cargill and The Nature Conservancy to cut greenhouse gas emissions by farmers in Nebraska.

The groups announced the five-year, $8.5 million effort on Thursday. The effort is designed to improve soil health practices to help mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and help farmers adapt to climate change.

The organizations said the effort, targeted at the state’s beef supply, could sequester 150,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide over the course of the project, or the equivalent to removing 32,000 cars from the road during the year.

“This initiative will ultimately help mitigate the impacts of climate change in the beef supply,” Marion Gross, chief supply chain officer for McDonald’s North America, said in a statement. The company has established goals for reducing its supply chain’s impact on climate change and views the partnership as a part of that effort.

Nebraska is one of the country’s top beef-producing states. It is also one of the top three states for corn production, a key ingredient in cattle feed.

McDonald's sustainability

The project will work with interested farmers to reach 100,000 acres of land. It will provide technical and financial assistance to implement regenerative soil health practices.

These practices will help store carbon in the soil, rather than the atmosphere. The groups also said that the practices will improve the health of agricultural lands, which helps both the farmers and the environment.

“We know that healthy cropland soils boost fertility, improve water quality and stabilize global climate,” Hannah Birge, The Nature Conservancy’s director of agriculture in Nebraska and the project’s director, said in a statement. “This project will leverage private and public resources to amplify the good work of Nebraska farmers as they scale up beneficial soil practices.”

The program is an Ecosystem Services Market Consortium pilot project, a program that uses incentives for farmers and ranchers to improve soil health in ways that benefit the climate.

McDonald's sustainability

The effort is also being uses along with a $4.4 million USDA grant to scale adoption of regenerative agriculture.

The companies involved have all made promises to improve climate health. Cargill’s BeefUp Sustainability Initiative, for instance, seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from its beef supply chain by 30% by 2030. Target’s goal is to cut emissions by 30% by that year.

McDonald’s, meanwhile, has promised to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 31% in its supply chain by 2030. The company expects to prevent 150 million metric tons of gas, or the equivalent to planting 3.8 billion trees and growing them for 10 years.

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