General Mills, Minneapolis, and Foremost Farms USA, Baraboo, Wis., collaborated on a 3-year pilot program that produced a combined 11% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for 16 dairy farmers in Michigan.

Foremost Farms is committed to conserving resources, protecting the environment and caring for animals, and General Mills set a goal to reduce GHG by 28% across the value chain by 2025 to address climate change.

In 2016, Foremost Farms convened a network of 16 Michigan dairy farmers who supply milk to General Mills’ yogurt plant to join global sourcing and sustainability experts from General Mills to share ideas, align goals and run a pilot test using a science-based assessment tool. The Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) Environmental Stewardship module is designed to help farmers improve efficiencies, reduce costs and track their performance against environmental goals.

The module provides a comprehensive estimate of a farm’s GHG emissions and energy use, which allows farmers to gauge their carbon footprint, identify areas for improvement, explore new practices, track performance and reduce costs. It also helps farmers re-evaluate equipment use and consider operational efficiencies from increased training or improved practices.

The group also met with experts from other companies, including Newtrient, Rosemont, Ill.; EnSave Inc., Richmond, Vt.; and Consumers Energy, Jackson, Mich., to discuss innovations and collaborate on financial assistance and other incentives to help reduce the costs of implementing  improvements. After three years, the participating farms had a combined 11% reduction in GHG, which outperformed the national and regional benchmark averages.