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Co-op members meet with Campbell’s sustainability lead
courtesy photo From left to right: Kyle Krier, Alex Rziha, Frank Lammers, Cammie Vaupel, Ryan Vroegindewey, Kevin Bahr, Jed Fleske and Luke Finlay.

On Aug. 9, American Plains Co-op hosted Ryan Vroegindewey at their Precision Ag office in Great Bend. Vroegindewey is the manager of Sustainable Agriculture at Campbell’s Soup Company.

Vroegindewey met with Co-op staff members Alex Rziha, Cammie Vaupel, Luke Finlay and Mark Bauer, along with area producers Jed Fleske, Kevin Bahr and Kyle Krier. The meeting was initiated through Truterra, from whom American Plains Co-op has offered various sustainability and carbon programs to area producers. Truterra staff member Frank Lammers was also in attendance.

The discussion centered around regenerative agriculture and what food companies like Campbells are looking for when it comes to sourcing grain for consumer products. Campbells is more than just soup, they also own other well-known brands such as Pepperidge Farms, Goldfish, and Snyder’s of Hanover. Wheat is the No. 2 ingredient by volume that is sourced by Campbells. Campbells has made commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in their production and supply chain to help create a better environment for future generations.

These commitments and the need for wheat are what opened the door for the conversation in Great Bend. Our growers had the opportunity to ask questions about what food companies may be looking for down the road as well as emphasize a few key points such as:

• Growers have been utilizing “sustainable” practices on their acres for years, sometimes decades, to preserve the soil and other resources for future generations. These practices didn’t have a fancy title, they were simply a way to remain resilient in our sometimes-uncooperative environment.

• Farmers are feeding their families the same products, from the same food companies, that are going out to the general public. Because of this, it should be clear that farmers are not growing unsafe products or attempting to cause harm to consumers.

The conversation was still going strong when the group was forced to adjourn to attend the open house. Upon departure, Vroegindewey was invited to not only return to Kansas, but also to come visit the farms of the producers in attendance.

American Plains Co-op is proud to have the connections to bring these important conversations to our local producers and hope that this was the first of many!