Ceres and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) have announced that Target, the U.S. general merchandise retailer with more than 1,800 stores, and Archer Daniels Midland Company, one of the world’s largest agricultural processors and food ingredient providers, have joined the AgWater Challenge. The two companies’ new water stewardship commitments were shared at the Financial Times Water Summit in London.

Ceres and WWF first launched the AgWater Challenge in 2016 to encourage better water stewardship among the world’s most influential food and beverage companies. Target and ADM join seven participating companies that have made commitments to better protect freshwater resources in their agricultural supply chains. With the global food sector using 70 per cent of the world’s freshwater supply, food and beverage companies play an important role in protecting water quality and quantity.

“We welcome Target and ADM’s new commitments to reduce their water impacts,” said Eliza Roberts, a senior manager at Ceres. “We encourage more companies to take action to go further faster in their efforts to preserve and protect freshwater resources for generations to come.”

By adding a major food retailer operating in every U.S. state and a global food processing conglomerate, the AgWater Challenge significantly increases the acreage farmed with water stewardship in mind.

ADM and Target join seven companies already engaged with the AgWater Challenge. Image Credit: Ceres.

“As human demand for water grows—particularly for agriculture, the pressures on critical freshwater ecosystems also grow,” said Lindsay Bass, manager of Corporate Water Stewardship at WWF. “When companies like Target and ADM embrace water stewardship across their agricultural supply chains, they set the stage for others to follow.”

As the first retailer to join the AgWater Challenge, Target’s commitments to improve water stewardship include:

  • Promoting sustainable water management in California.
  • Collaborating with suppliers through the Field to Market Fieldprint Platform to ensure progress on water quality is made by reducing agricultural runoff in the Mississippi River Basin.
  • Supporting future development of small grains and cover crops as a market solution for climate and water protection in the corn belt and engage key supply chain partners on associated feasibility studies.
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“Participating in the AgWater Challenge is another example of how we’re working to strengthen the health and vitality of the communities where we live, the people we serve and the planet we all share,” said Jennifer Silberman, vice president, corporate responsibility, Target. “These new commitments align with our goals of creating healthy ecosystems and improving sustainable water management.”

With a global value chain that includes approximately 500 crop procurement locations, 270 food and feed ingredient manufacturing facilities, 44 innovation centers, and a premier crop transportation network, ADM has made several time-bound measurable commitments to address water quality challenges across their value chain. ADM’s commitments to improve water stewardship include:

  • The company will establish a baseline and work with Agrible and growers to increase usage of cover crops and alternative tilling practices by 25 per cent each.
  • Incentivizing participation in the Illinois Saving Tomorrow’s Agriculture Resources (STAR) program, a farmer certification program aligned with the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy.
  • A grant to the local Soil and Water Conservation Districts to support education efforts and adoption of conservation practices.

“At ADM, sustainable practices and a focus on environmental responsibility aren’t separate from our primary business….” said Alison Taylor, ADM’s chief sustainability officer. “Everything we do starts with growers and participating in the AgWater Challenge presents us with a great opportunity to influence growing practices and make a tangible difference in water conservation practices for years to come.”

Follow the link for the detailed commitments of each organization participating in the AgWater Challenge.

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