Supporting dairy farmers in France

General Mills launched its first regenerative agriculture pilot in Europe to support farmers who supply milk for Häagen-Dazs ice cream.

Dairy cows in field

Our first regenerative agriculture pilot in Europe

General Mills and Prospérité Fermière Ingredia, a dairy cooperative in France that supplies milk for Häagen Dazs ice cream, are launching a 5-year pilot that supports dairy farmers in the north of France as they introduce regenerative management techniques on their farms.

The ten selected farmers, who are members of the cooperative Prospérité Fermière, will receive ongoing technical support from Bureau Technique de Promotion Laitière (BTPL) and l’IDELE (Institut de l’Elevage).

“With agriculture representing half of General Mills’ total greenhouse gas footprint in France, we see regenerative agriculture as a key lever to reduce our emissions and have the greatest impact,” says Juliette Huet, head of milk purchasing in Europe, General Mills. “Today, Prospérité Fermière Ingredia supplies our Häagen Dazs manufacturing plant in Tilloy les Mofflaines (Pas de Calais), so we’re proud to elevate our partnership to promote innovation, support our local community where we operate business, and make a positive impact on our planet. We expect to learn from this pilot to prepare for future expansion.”

Each participating dairy farmer will receive personalized coaching and technical assistance from Bureau Technique de Promotion Laitière (BTPL) and l’IDELE (Institut de l’Elevage), and customized action plans that integrate regenerative agriculture principles, or otherwise known to French farmers as conservation agriculture principles.

These principles include minimizing soil disturbance, keeping the soil covered, rotational grazing, and feeding cows a diverse mix of crops.

The project also includes regular measurements to understand the positive impact these actions have on ecosystem quality (soil health, carbon storage, increased biodiversity and cow well-being), in addition to farmer economic resilience.

“Our cooperative is known for being innovative, close to its members, attentive to its clients and concerned about the environment. Thanks to this project in partnership with General Mills, Prospérité Fermiere is one of the first dairy cooperatives showcasing that regenerative agriculture has a great potential to grow within Dairy. For the first time we are closely collaborating with a customer, with agronomy at the core of this program, a key lever to cope with environmental challenges,” highlights Hubert Laloux, Head of CSR for Prospérité Fermière Ingredia. “Animal welfare, carbon footprint, biodiversity, respect for the soil and farmer well-being are integral to our farmers’ work. Through this partnership, all our members will be able to follow the progress and benefits that our ten pilot farms will share throughout the five years of the project. We hope that these virtuous principles will be disseminated as widely as possible throughout our beautiful region of Hauts de France!”

This is General Mills’ first regenerative agriculture pilot in Europe since making its global commitment in 2019 to advance regenerative agriculture on one million acres of farmland by 2030.

General Mills also has committed to reduce absolute greenhouse gas emissions across its full value chain by 30% by 2030 and achieve net zero emission levels by 2050.