Bayer's Earth Day Commitments: Sustainable Farming, On-Campus Sheep

Bayer's Earth Day Commitments: Sustainable Farming, On-Campus Sheep

In the first of what will probably be many post-Earth Day posts about Earth Day (in case you didn't catch our coverage, a lot happened yesterday...), here's an interesting pair of announcements that highlight a broad spectrum of business and sustainability commitments.

Two divisions of biotech giant Bayer this week announced very different Earth Day sustainability tie-ins.

Bayer HealthCare announced earlier this week that it had brought 1,450 sheep to its Richmond, Calif., campus to help manage the 17 acres of the site's landscaping.
Sheep grazing in Richmond, Calif. Photo courtesy of Bayer HealthCare. sheep grazing The sheep will graze for two weeks, eating an estimated 115,000 pounds of grass, and weeds on the site. The flock, which is managed by Living Systems Land Management, will keep the plant life in check, reducing fire hazards on the land, as well as encouraging native plant growth, eliminating the need for gas-powered landscaping tools, pesticides and herbicides.

The other big announcement from Bayer this week follows on the pesticides and herbicides front:

At the United Fresh Conference in Las Vegas, John Smith, the director of Bayer CropScience's Horticulture Region, announced a $1.1 million dollar, 4-year endowment for a new the Center for Global Produce Sustainability.

Details are more than a little sketchy, but the Center will be a part of the United Fresh Research & Education Foundation, a non-profit arm of the United Fresh Produce Association. For the next year, the Center will work on developing a vision for sustainable agriculture, and the following year will be focused on spurring innovations for both growers and supply chain partners.

Of course, when talking about agriculture and sustainability, supply chain issues are critical: the complexity and world-spanning nature of many food conglomerates' supply chains is one of the main causes of the many recent food recalls and contamination outbreaks (a common enough occurrence that the UFPA's website has listed on its home page a training on how to deal with a recall).

We'll be keeping our eyes on this initiative to see what comes out of it, but in the meantime it's good to see the big boys like Bayer CropScience talking about -- and putting some money toward -- sustainability issues.

Sheep images CC-licensed by Flickr users law_keven and Tambako the Jaguar.