Walmart intends to establish standards for sustainability in the production of livestock and dairy products. The Sustainability Consortium has been established involving the University of Arkansas, Arizona State University and agribusiness concerns including Monsanto, Syngenta, Tyson Foods and Stonyfield Farms.
The coordinator of the consortium, Mike Faupel, indicated that the exercise will evaluate the entire life cycle from farm to consumer. The initial project will involve yogurt. The stated goal of the initiative is to establish label scores relating to the environmental impact of various products. Walmart will also apply data on sustainability in purchase and stocking decisions.
The proposal has been met with skepticism and muted opposition from certain sectors of organized agriculture, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, which stated through a spokesperson that “this is an illusion that farmers are going to get premiums for these practices.” The representative of the Iowa Environmental Council commented “a large corporation like Walmart has some definite power here to accomplish something but they have two goals and one of course is their bottom line and the other is to keep the prices low.”
The Walmart initiative appears to have support from the organic fraternity as the company has indicated its interest in improving soil quality and conserving water. The article relating to the Walmart initiative authored by Philip Brasher was published in the November 7 edition of the Des Moines Register.