Wal-Mart has launched a new initiative aimed at sustainable agriculture. The hope is that the initiative will help small- and medium-sized growers expand their businesses, get more income for their products, and reduce the environmental impact of farming, while strengthening local economies and providing customers with long-term access to affordable, high-quality, fresh food.
“Through sustainable agriculture, Wal-Mart is uniquely positioned to make a positive difference in food production – for farmers, communities, and customers,” Wal-Mart president and CEO Mike Duke said an a company statement. “Our efforts will help increase farmer incomes, lead to more efficient use of pesticides, fertilizer, and water, and provide fresher produce for our customers.”
Part of Wal-Mart’s goal includes doubling the percentage of locally grown produce in its U.S. stores to 9% (local produce being defined as that grown and sold in the same state).
Similar to its recent environmental initiative, the company also will create an agriculture-specific index to measure produce suppliers’ waste and efficiency. Producers will be asked to answer questions related to water, chemical, and fertilizer use, with the goal of including this information in a sustainability rating that customers would be able to see and use to consider which fruits and vegetables to buy based on waste produced. Wal-Mart would also use this index to decide from which producers it wants to buy.
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