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Four executives from crop production brands discuss ways their companies have and are continuing to make strides in sustainability.

Alaina Dismukes, writer

April 14, 2021

3 Min Read
“Whatever we do in sustainability, we all need to work together to make sure that it is profitable and sustainable for our farmer customers," Judd O'Connor said.Getty Images/iStockPhoto

Sustainability is an important aspect of crop production brands. Goals in sustainability are continuing to be made and reached within the agriculture sectors.

During the online 2021 Commodity Classic Conference, an executive roundtable discussed how each of their companies is working to improve sustainability in the industry through programs and initiatives. The brands represented in the discussion were Corteva Agriscience, Syngenta Seeds, BASF Agricultural Solutions, and Bayer.

Corteva Agriscience, Syngenta Seeds

Judd O’Connor, president of the U.S. Commercial Business for Corteva Agriscience, said Corteva plans to bring new technologies and innovations to the table to drive more productivity and decrease their footprint.

"Whatever we do, we all need to work together to make sure that it is profitable and sustainable for our farmer customers," O'Connor said. "It needs to be something that our farmer customers can implement easily and fits into a financial plan that allows them to move forward profitably. That way, the next generation coming in behind the current group can also continue their work, which is extremely important."

Justin Wolfe, North America regional director for Syngenta Seeds, added that Syngenta launched an initiative in 2013 called the Good Growth Plan, which focuses on new technologies.

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"We renewed the Good Growth Plan in 2019 with a significant additional investment focused on innovation," Wolfe said. "We unveiled some new targets last year as well, which was about accelerating innovation for farmers and nature while striving for a neutral carbon footprint."

Wolfe said that their top goal is to help farmers be successful.

"When it comes to where we are at, we have two big facets," he said. "We look at our current footprint of what we produce as a company. Then ask ourselves, 'How do we help continue to produce goods and services for farmers to help them be successful while also adding sustainability into the equation?' It is going to take significant investment and time, but we are working in that direction."

BASF and Bayer

Scott Kay, vice president of U.S. Crop Protection for BASF Agricultural Solutions in North America, said agriculture has a major role to play in sustainability.

"We need to have a seat at the table," Kay said. "Agriculture needs to be a leader in this discussion, and we could lead the entire nation in this dialogue. I think government policy is going to play a part, but ag is going to be a major player sitting at the table and demonstrating how we have already been down this path and are willing and able to continue to do the work.

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"From a BASF perspective, we have come out with a platform that looks at four key areas. We are full steam ahead in terms of what we are doing to do our part concerning the environment."

The question was posed to Chris Turner, the U.S. country division head within the Crop Science division of Bayer, concerning whether agriculture has a seat at the table within the administration.

"We all have an opportunity to influence this space in a great way," Turner said. "We have all talked about how agriculture can be at the center, and I think agriculture is already at the center of helping the administration currently at the White House to solve some key issues.

"A lot of things start with biofuels, and our activity and participation in that space has been very aggressive and will continue to be a key piece of our industry going forward. Within Bayer, carbon emissions have been a space we have taken seriously as well. We recently wrapped up our first pilot of a carbon program involving farmers. We are not only trying to meet the needs of the administration from a carbon footprint standpoint, but we also want to bring added value to our customers.

"With the pilot wrapped up, we are now at the commercial launch phase. The pilot launched with 17 states. This adds a revenue opportunity for our customers for not only adopting new practices starting in 2021, but it also recognizes previous practices that have been taking place for the last five to 10 years."

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