Leading the way
Leading the way
Mosaic Company is a pioneer of progression in agricultural sustainability
By Christy Couch Lee
Just five years ago, the Mosaic Company launched as the second-largest crop nutrition firm, when Cargill Crop Nutrition and IMC Global Inc, joined forces. Today, this company is a leader in providing phosphate and potash for worldwide agriculture.
Mosaic takes pride in its efforts to increase sustainability, and these efforts have recently been highlighted in the Mosaic 2009 Sustainability Report. In addition, Mosaic has taken the bold step of becoming the first CTIC Gold Corporate Member, recognizing the value CTIC provides toward the company’s sustainability goals.
Yes, Mosaic is blazing a trail to progression in numerous ways.
Mosaic’s commitment to sustainability
Mosaic is committed to preserving native wildlife in areas mined by the company for phosphate. When possible, Mosaic mines existing farmland to minimize habitat disturbance. However, if mining must be conducted in areas that may disturb native species, Mosaic’s team of biologists and geologists step into action, says Ron Olson, Mosaic research and development manager.
“These teams have a very loving respect for the living creatures on our properties,” Olson says. “We want to know what they are and where they are. We will then relocate the species and continue building their population. And, when we are done mining, we will move those members of the species back onto their land.”
Take, for example, the “friendliest bird in the field,” the Florida Scrub-jay. Although this highly social bird was listed as a threatened species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1987, its population continues to decline.
Recognizing the need to protect these birds, Mosaic teamed with experts in 2003 to combine on-site habitat reclamation with the translocation of jays to a 1,000-acre Mosaic-owned habitat site.
When initial surveys were conducted in 2000, only a single scrub-jay family lived at the habitat site. By July 2009, the population of jays at that location increased to 10 groups – 37 individuals.
In addition to habitat development, the selective use of radio telemetry and long-term monitoring and reporting of translocated scrub-jays has helped provide researchers with new data, which may continue to help build the numbers of this threatened, social creature.
Photo courtesy of Mosaic
“We help the world grow the food it needs,” says Ron Olson, Mosaic research and development manager. “All of our people are focused on this mission.
Mosaic celebrated its fifth anniversary in October 2009. And, in honor of this milestone, a team of experts from all facets of the business joined forces to launch the first Mosaic Sustainability Report. This effort was led by Mark Kaplan, Mosaic vice president of planning and government affairs.
“Celebrating our fifth anniversary was the perfect time to talk about the future and the way we’re building a sustainable business,” Kaplan says. “We have had a lot of good things going on, but we had never pulled the information together in a thoughtful, comprehensive way. Our goal was to start painting an accurate picture of our entire company and focus on the things we’re trying to do to enhance our positive impacts and reduce the negative impacts of our business. We wanted to talk about where we’ve been, and where we want to go.”
In this report, Mosaic details efforts made to reduce emissions, provide essential resources for farmers around the world, reclaim land and protect threatened species. The report also explains the six core principles of Mosaic’s sustainability efforts: investing in people; ensuring environmental stewardship for responsible land and natural resource use; applying effective agronomic principles to help meet increasing food demands; improving economic opportunity; managing business operations and the supply chain with integrity; and leading with excellence.
“These principles remind us that sustainability at Mosaic touches everything we do,” Kaplan says. “We measure our performance across a triple bottom line of social, environmental and economic impacts. When you look across the six principles, we hope that every person who works for Mosaic can see his or her role reflected. Everyone is having a long-term impact. It’s not just about being environmental stewards. It’s not just about building strong communities or a strong company. It’s about all of those things. These six principles can serve as a touchstone when making decisions about how we operate.”
Olson says Mosaic also strives to be a leader in agricultural sustainability. Annually at the Mosaic AgCollege customers learn about improving their operations, managing risks, recognizing how global economics impact their business plans, implementing the latest agronomic advances, and developing leadership skills.
In addition, Olson says, Mosaic realizes farmers can benefit from the support of a team of experts in the fields.
“We understand we’re going to be successful only because the farmer is successful,” he says. “Our worldwide agronomy team is involved in interacting with the dealer and farmer to bring new ideas. They are available to diagnose what’s going on in the fields and to bring solutions to problems.”
And, the Mosaic Sustainability Report can serve its team of experts well, he says.
“It’s all about planting seeds,” Olson says. “The sustainability report is how we tell our story to dealers, who in turn, share our story with customers. We consider it planting seeds and getting into that annual growth cycle. We’re going to review this report every year and, in turn, plant new seeds every year.”
Kaplan says that becoming a truly sustainable company and reporting in a transparent way about the company’s efforts is a work in progress, and Mosaic plans to make this an ongoing effort with annual reports.
“We will continue to learn from experience and continue examining what we do,” he says. “We will keep asking ourselves, ‘If we hadn’t already been doing it this way, how would we do it?’ We’ll continue examining how to be even better stewards of natural resources and the environment. We’ll continue looking at agronomic tools to help farmers be more productive. We can never rest and never be satisfied.”
Above all, Kaplan says, Mosaic hopes the sustainability report will serve as a testimony of its commitment to providing food for the world.
“Nearly 75 million more people are pulling up to the world’s dinner table every year,” he says. “Food security ranks among the world’s highest priorities. We take our role of meeting that need very seriously. We take pride in strengthening communities, caring for the environment, and building a strong business for our employees, our customers, and our investors. We’ve set ambitious goals for ourselves. And, we hope that our sustainability efforts will help make us stronger as we help the world grow the food it needs.”
To view the Mosaic Sustainability Report, click here.
Mosaic and CTIC
Photo courtesy of Mosaic
Ron says the move was an easy one.
“We looked at the level of support we were already devoting to CTIC during the course of a year, and we were already providing that level of support,” he says. “We see value in our relationship with CTIC, and we are proud to be a Gold Corporate Member. We hope others will take advantage of that membership, as well.”
Although this level of membership entitles Mosaic to a strong benefits package, Ron says, their commitment was based on greater aspirations.
“We didn’t sign up as a Gold Corporate Member because of the benefits package,” he says. “We see value in making a stronger partnership with CTIC to tell the important story of conservation technology and practices being implemented wisely on every farm across the country. We’re involved with a progressive organization.”
Ron encourages other agricultural businesses to consider a higher level of CTIC membership.
“We need to be joining together as agricultural businesses to tell the story about ag,” he says. “We see this as a way that Mosaic can connect with other ag industries and government partners in telling the important story of food production and how conservation plays a key role in producing safe food.”
Mosaic financiallyy supports CTIC's Upstream heroes program, which features success stories of farmers who develop and adopt sound nutrient management strategies to reduce the Gulf of Mexico hypoxic zone and to reduce agriculture’s contribution to the high nutrient loads in the Mississippi River.
“By being involved in the Upstream Heroes project, we will become more closely aligned and will build relationships with other organizations like fellow sponsor, The Nature Conservancy,” he says. “It will allow us to find other like-minded organizations, with which we can connect and create win-win situations.”
Ron encourages other companies to become involved in this program, to anchor their role in promoting conservation.
“As Chief Seattle said, ‘Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect,’” Ron says.
To learn about CTIC membership levels, click here.
For more information on the CTIC Upstream Heroes campaign, visit www.upstreamheroes.org.
About the Writer: Christy Couch Lee is the owner of Cee Lee Communications, an agricultural writing and photography business based in Wellington, Ill.