CLIMATE-FRIENDLY CRACKERS. Airly Crackers, a small division of consumer-packaged goods food manufacturer Post, is working with no-tillers raising carbon-negative wheat. The Airly brand is carried in several hundred Walmart locations nationwide and has been taste-tested by No-Till Farmer staff. “Damn good!” was one review. Photo: Frank Lessiter

Regenerative Ag Becoming 'Expectation' for Food Companies

Milling company pairs farmers using regenerative agriculture practices with food companies seeking to become more transparent about food sourcing

An increasing number of large corporations, such as Nestlé and Guinness, are placing an emphasis on working with farmers who are using regenerative agriculture practices. Star of the West Milling Company, a more than 150-year-old flour mill in Frankenmuth, Mich., is helping to connect these farmers with food companies, 

“The company started as 1 small flour mill in Frankenmuth over 150 years ago, and then it expanded into 5 flour mills across 4 states,” says Lisa Woodke, sustainability director for Star of the West. “We also have food grade soybeans and dry beans that we process, and we have an agronomy division now as well.”

Woodke says that the concept of pairing farmers with food companies began about 15 years ago when Star of the West began tracking how growers managed their crops. She went further in depth at the 2023 Conservation Technology Information Center Conservation in Action Tour. 

“We supply soft white wheat to many cereal customers, several of whom are located in Michigan,” Woodke says. “There was this question around how the growers were treating their fields, specifically their wheat. We started tracking what growers were doing using online tools like Syngenta’s Cropwise to show a baseline of what practices these growers were using.”

According to Woodke, a lot of farmers were using regenerative agriculture practices such as no-tilling and planting cover crops, but failing to advertise it. They needed help telling that story to interested food companies. 

“On the flip side, consumers are always wondering what growers…

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Mackane Vogel

Mackane Vogel is the Associate Editor of Farm Equipment, No-Till Farmer, Cover Crop Strategies and other Lessiter Media publications. An avid writer for the last 10 years, he previously served as the editorial intern for 88Nine Radio Milwaukee and also wrote for several different sports journalism outlets before joining the Lessiter Media team in 2022. Mackane is a 2020 journalism graduate of Marquette University.


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