Big Food to Congress: Show us you're serious about climate change

By Bill Tomson

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, May 25, 2016 - Large food companies have said they are taking climate change and sustainability more seriously, but now firms like Mars and Unilever want Congress to back their efforts to become greener.

“We need a comprehensive set of actions on climate change,” Brad Figel, a representative for Mars told Agri-Pulse Wednesday after a meeting with Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., and Rep. Chris Gibson, D-N.Y. “We need Congress to move.”

Together we can feed the Bees"

Representatives from Kellogg, Ben & Jerry's, Clif Bar and others spent much of Wednesday meeting with lawmakers and their staff members to lay out just how much their companies are investing in ways to reduce their carbon footprints and deal with climate change.

Their message, they said, is they're doing a lot - everything from investing in solar energy to reducing transportation emissions - but there's a lot more that needs to be done and Congress needs to help.

As to what Congress does, Figel said, that's up to lawmakers.

Gibson said that reforming tax policy to help and encourage companies to go greener is one possibility.

“We're going to look at this in a very extensive way,” he said. “How do we set the policy, including tax policy so we can facilitate the trend towards clean and renewable energy and energy efficiencies going forward?”

Lisa Drake, representing Stonyfield -  the maker of organic milk and yogurt - told lawmakers that time is of the essence because climate change is already a major factor for food companies.

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Clif Bar, the maker of energy bars, is spending big to power its bakeries and operations using solar and other renewable energy in an effort to address climate change, said Elysa Hammond, who represented the company on Capitol Hill today. But it is expensive and the company needs Congress to help to help create an “even playing field,” she said

At Kellogg, “we know people care about where food comes from, who grows and makes it, and that there is enough for everyone,” Diane Holdorf, the company's chief sustainability 0fficer said in a prepared statement. “Climate change can impact both food security and our business by posing risks to the long-term health and viability of the ingredients we use in our foods.”

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