OSI Group, one of the world’s leading global food providers, has recently developed partnerships with like-minded members of the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (USRSB) in an effort to help ranchers and farmers improve grazing conditions and practices in the Northern Great Plains area of Montana.
OSI Group’s financial support will provide funding for various programs that are intended to recruit interested Montana farmers and ranchers and show them how and why they could be practicing more restorative grazing methods.
These efforts are part of a sustainable grazing approach called climate-smart agriculture, which involves converting some established agricultural practices to those that improve soil health, increase carbon capture and boost rancher profitability. Such practices can reduce the impact of climate change on grazing operations in an effort to hopefully reduce or prevent larger-scale disruptions to local and global food supply chains in the future.
By agreeing to take part in this project, participating farmers and ranchers can learn how to lower their overall carbon footprint and improve soil health. One sustainable practice that’s part of this effort is called rotational grazing, and involves moving livestock regularly to different pastures, which can stimulate vegetation growth in the different areas as well as also allow longer periods of rest for the areas that cattle previously occupied.
Participating farmers and ranchers also agree to have their efforts regularly measured and verified so they can see how much improvement has taken place or further adjust their operations to see improvements in the future. Monitoring includes analysis of soil samples to show the additional carbon pulled into the soil each year by implementing these changes.
The hope is that by taking part, each rancher will be able to see more productive acreage, incur less operational costs, and eventually see increased profits. In addition, the whole community will be able to benefit from a healthier environment, such as improved and restored grasslands and waterways, along with restored habitat and populations of plants and animals.
Nicole Johnson-Hoffman, OSI Group Chief Sustainability Officer, said the group is proud to have found a way to support Montana farmers and ranchers who have been demonstrating leadership in climate-smart agriculture. She agrees they have a special role in creating healthier soil and producing larger carbon captures.
The OSI Group partnership will specifically benefit sustainability-focused organizations involved in the restorative grazing efforts, including NativeEnergy, a carbon project developer; and Western Sustainability Exchange, a regional non-profit organization.
Both work toward improving grazing efforts, and with the support of the OSI Group, they hope to achieve a goal of expanding their program to 200,000 acres of grasslands in the region.
NativeEnergy also hopes to use the information from the various soil samples to create a baseline for that region of the country, which can be used in a wider U.S. soil carbon data set.
About OSI Group
OSI Group began in 1909 as Otto & Sons, a family-owned meat market, and in 1955 became the first supplier of fresh ground beef for the emerging McDonald’s chain started by Ray Kroc. It became OSI Industries in the U.S. in the 1970s, and later expanded into Europe, Australia and Asia.
Over the years it has continued acquisitions, opened more facilities around the world, and created more partnerships with various meat providers.
One of the more significant recent partnerships took place in 2019 when it came together with Impossible Foods to co-manufacture plant-based protein items.
The company regularly looks toward future food trends and opportunities to build relationships at a local and global level, along with finding sustainable solutions for consumers and clients.
OSI Group is a member of both the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef and the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, the global and national organizations that focus on ways to advance and improve sustainable practices in the beef value chain along with encouraging socially responsible and economically viable practices. The roundtables include representation from producers, processors, retail, civil society, and allied industry.