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    Sustainable Feed Supply Chains to Reduce Your Scope 3 Emissions

    November 30, 2023

    For companies who have committed themselves to the fast-evolving landscape of corporate social responsibility, especially titans of the food and beverage industry, the pressure is on. “Cutting emissions” is no longer just talk; it's a tangible, urgent goal. The once far-off 2025 and 2030 climate targets—including those related to Scope 3 emissions—are now jagged peaks within view.

    Scope 3 emissions, often comprising 90% of the total emissions for companies with agricultural supply chains, pose a complex challenge due to the convoluted supply chains weaving from farm to factory to store shelf. They are difficult to trace and daunting to change. This is especially true for supply chains in animal agriculture, whether for meat, milk, or other products. Animals are a major part of why agriculture takes such a big slice of the global greenhouse gas emissions pie.

    Where should food and beverage companies begin? It turns out livestock feed is a major opportunity.

    The Impact of Livestock Production

    Let’s start by recognizing the size of the opportunity. Animal production, notably beef, contributes to 11% of global greenhouse gas emissions, equating to approximately 6.2 gigatons of CO2e. Livestock production is also a significant consumer of water, accounting for 12% of global freshwater use. In 2021, more than 13 billion kilograms of beef—roughly 28 billion pounds—were consumed in the United States alone.

    Livestock management not only produces emissions but also drives land-use change, with global livestock production responsible for 65% of observed land-use change between 1961 and 2011. Think of converting a forest or natural habitat into sites for grazing and managing cattle, or growing crops for an animal’s feed. In the United States, land-use change for cropland expansion contributes to 18% of total feed-related emissions for beef cattle.

    Various sources contribute to emissions in cattle management, including enteric fermentation, manure production, energy use, and off-farm processing. The production of stage of beef takes the lion's share of emissions, and up to 20% of those are related to cattle feed. In the United States, over 6 billion bushels of corn annually serve as animal feed, generating 70 million metric tons of CO2e. Changing how grain for feed is grown will, therefore, have a crucial impact on mitigating all kinds of greenhouse gas emissions and preserving the climate.

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    By the Numbers...
    11% of global GHG emissions attributed to livestock production (>80% of which is beef)
    12% of worldwide freshwater use is attributed to global livestock
    20% of beef’s substantial carbon footprint comes from feed production
    65% of land-use change (LUC) over a 50-year period was driven by livestock production

    Understanding the environmental implications of livestock production is vital, considering not only direct emissions but also the broader impact on land use, water resources, and the entire supply chain. Companies in the food and beverage industry are faced with the daunting prospect of navigating this complex landscape to fulfill their sustainability commitments. And this is where Indigo Ag comes in.

    Scope 3 Solutions

    Indigo Ag's Scope 3 program guides companies throughout their Scope 3 journeys, offering a range of products from streamlined supply chain measurements to optimized sourcing decisions. These products are customizable to meet specific customer needs and are designed to drive impact even in complex supply chains. We adopt an ecosystem-level approach that takes into account regional nuances, specific agronomic practices, and the environmental conditions in which our products will operate. This includes products that help companies to intervene in animal feed production to improve the sustainability of their businesses.

    A majority of the grain grown will become animal feed; changing how we grow it will change the amount of emissions the animal agriculture sector is responsible for producing. This is why feed is an important focus area. We are already working with major brands in the food and beverage space to generate traceable, low-emissions supply chains that can have immediate results and then be built on for years to come.

    Unlocking Transformation in Feed. A critical juncture for transformation lies in feed production. By zeroing in on this aspect, Indigo establishes connections across the supply chain, facilitating direct communication of demand signals from corporations to farmers. Through these programs, not only is change incentivized at the field level, but these climate benefits can also be connected between farmers, agribusinesses, and the food and beverage companies who end up purchasing them.

    Scientifically Rigorous Insights for Industry Change. Our products boast the industry's most robust set of measurement, reporting, and verification (MRV) capabilities. This includes our soil carbon model, DayCent-CR, validated by the Climate Action Reserve’s Soil Enrichment Protocol and scientific peer review. Our MRV capabilities stand as a reflection of our commitment to scientific accuracy and transparency.

    Built to Adapt to Landmark Policy. We offer companies the ability to quantify the impacts of row crop production with specificity and confidence, on land that has just started out with or is ramping up the use of sustainable farming practices. Indigo’s models can measure the exact, environmental outcomes in those fields—and our products are designed to comply with the currently evolving Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) and Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHGP) guidelines.

    A Holistic Approach to Sustainable Agriculture. The focus is on identifying farmers ready to transition to impactful sustainable farming practices, reducing their risky transition through a premium, and connecting these farmers to progressive merchants and aggregators who agree to purchase their grain.

    Farming Practices That Regenerate the Soil. Indigo and our partner network help farmers adopt specific practices that enhance and fortify soil health. Practices such as reduced tillage, cover crops, and nitrogen management not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions but also offer ancillary benefits. These include fewer tractor passes, leading to fuel conservation, and the preservation of topsoil—the Earth’s largest organic carbon pool.

    Shaping the Future of Sustainable Feed Supply Chains

    The potential to revolutionize feed production is not a distant dream but an actionable reality. Farmers continue to experiment with sustainable farming practices, but need the commitment of a dedicated buyer to make the leap and rapidly adopt even more impactful practices. By seizing this opportunity, companies can significantly reduce their GHG inventories and drive a paradigm shift toward sustainability. We want to help you pioneer this change in land-use, connecting the dots between feed production, emissions, and a sustainable future for livestock production– bringing the farmer and the food company closer together in the process.

    The time for change is now, and the solution lies in what we source and how we source it. We invite you to learn more information on our Scope 3 programs.