Minneapolis-based General Mills announced a strategic sourcing partnership with Organic Valley, La Crosse, Wis., to help about 20 U.S. dairy farms add around 3,000 acres of organic dairy production over the next three years.

The program will drive more acres in the United States into the organic certification process, and builds upon General Mills' commitment to double the organic acreage from which it sources ingredients by 2019. 

The strategic alignment will also build General Mills' relationships with the organic farmers who will be supporting its U.S. yogurt operating unit, which includes brands like Yoplait, Annie's, Liberté and Mountain High

Earlier this year General Mills introduced the Annie's brand to the U.S. yogurt category with a new line of certified organic whole milk yogurt. In addition, the company is transitioning its Liberté yogurt brand to USDA-certified organic, which will roll out nationwide this summer.

"To ensure we are able to deliver great tasting organic yogurt offerings to our consumers, we are committed to supporting a framework in partnership with Organic Valley that will not only ensure a consistent supply chain, but also make it easier for dairy farmers to successfully manage through the transition to organic," says David Clark, president of the General Mills yogurt operating unit.

"We recognize that one of the biggest challenges to accelerating organic supply is enabling farmers to bridge the 3-year period required to attain certified-organic status under USDA rules.  There is tremendous opportunity for Annie's — with the scale of General Mills — to increase the organic ingredient supply needed to support the rising consumer interest in organic foods," adds John Foraker, president of Annie's.

General Mills will also launch the Organic & Regenerative Agriculture Transition Council, tasked with bringing together sustainable agricultural leaders, farmers and industry stakeholders to advance organic and regenerative agriculture practices. The first project will focus on dairy.