Mr. Jay Watson: Advancing Regenerative Agriculture/Soil Health at General Mills
Regenerative Agriculture: a new approach
In recent years, many progressive groups have adopted a new vision for agriculture, which sees farming as a means to restore biodiversity and positively impact global warming. This “Regenerative Agriculture” encourages agriculture to work with natural systems that are utilized by agricultural production. The most fundamental element of this concept is to enhance soil quality. A major breakthrough came when General Mills developed a comprehensive regenerative agriculture strategy. General Mills appears to be the industry leader and has announced a goal of “advancing regenerative agriculture practices on 1 million acres by 2030.” Its program, which has clearly measured outcomes, seeks impacts in soil health, water conservation, biodiversity, and economic resilience of farming communities. In 2019 General Mills began its first regenerative agriculture pilot with 45 farmers in North Dakota and Canada. Early this year General Mills began a pilot regenerative agriculture wheat program in Kansas. General Mills also has developed a synthetic pesticide reduction program utilizing regenerative agriculture, Integrated Pest Management, and organic acreage expansion.
Mr. Jay Watson leads efforts to advance progress on agricultural sustainability efforts, including General Mills, Inc.’s (GMI) 2030 greenhouse gas reduction and regenerative agriculture commitments. In his role, Mr. Watson collaborates with sourcing buyers and external partners to develop and deploy engagements to both characterize & reduce social, environmental and economic impacts of key ingredients. Mr. Watson has been fortunate to travel to where many of GMI’s key ingredients are grown and appreciates the opportunity to connect with farmers and learn more about stewardship as well as family legacy. Prior to joining the sustainability team in January 2017, Mr. Watson spent 10 years in a variety of buying roles within the company’s global sourcing organization. Mr. Watson holds B.S. in Finance and a B.S. in Economics from Arizona State University and a MBA from the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management.