©Day’s Edge / WWF-US
The Walmart Foundation, Cargill and McDonald’s are investing over $6 million in an initiative that aims to make lasting improvements to the grasslands of the Northern Great Plains.
The Ranch Systems and Viability Planning (RSVP) network is a new programme led by World Wildlife Fund (WWF), with the objective of improving the management of 1 million acres over five years.
The Northern Great Plains ecoregion comprises approximately 25% of the total area of the Great Plains of North America. The RSVP network will support ranchers across the ecoregion with technical expertise, training and tools to help advance grazing practices that improve the health of the land.
The initiative – which will focus primarily on Montana, Nebraska and South Dakota – is expected to result in increased carbon storage and sequestration, improved water infiltration and ‘better outcomes for biodiversity’.
Ranchers will reportedly be able to share peer-to-peer learning through the RSVP network. In addition, WWF will work with ranchers on private and tribal lands to provide extension services in one-on-one and group workshops, offer technical expertise and provide cost share and monitoring to help ranchers design, document and implement ranch plans.
“Ranchers are the most important stewards of the grasslands of the Northern Great Plains,” said Martha Kauffman, managing director of WWF’s Northern Great Plains programme.
“As managers of over 70% of the remaining intact grasslands within this region, they hold the keys to its future. The RSVP network will support ranching partners in planning and improving the resiliency of their operations, so they continue to provide habitat for wildlife, store carbon, filter clean water, produce nutritious food and support communities for generations to come.”
Kathleen McLaughlin, EVP and chief sustainability officer for Walmart and president of the Walmart Foundation, added: “Collaborative efforts like this can accelerate innovative, sustainable solutions and support ranchers in the beef supply chain.”
Cargill’s participation in the project falls under its BeefUp Sustainability initiative, which seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the company’s beef supply chain by 30% by 2030. This is measured on a per pound of beef basis against a 2017 baseline.
Heather Tansey, sustainability lead for Cargill’s protein and animal nutrition and health businesses, said: “We believe beef cattle can be a force for good, and one of the ways we can address some of our shared challenges by preserving wildlife and drawing down carbon. This initiative is a testament to that.”
Earlier this month, Cargill announced that it is supporting farmer-led efforts to adopt regenerative agriculture practices on 10 million acres of crop land in North America by 2030.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019