Food Companies and Farmers Working Together on Sustainability

United States food companies that rely on farmers to supply products must now become more active to ensure crops are cultivated without damaging the water, soil and environment. Ceres, a nonprofit network of investors, companies and public interest groups, released a report focusing on climate change’s effect on corn production.

The nonprofit emphasized the need for farmers and companies they supply to deal with weather extremes like droughts, an increase in groundwater-depleting irrigation and fertilizer use. General Mills and Unilever, which have adopted sustainability programs, worked with Ceres for the report and suggested the Ceres set up specific goals for the companies and farmers.

Ceres recommends companies substitute other grains for corn where environmental benefits show and tell investors about the company’s exposure to climate and water-related risks within the agricultural supply chain. The report included suggestions such as establishing corporate policies for goals to reduce the environmental impact, procurement contracts that require sustainably grown crops and goals to identify problems of high water stress, groundwater pollution and overuse of fertilizer. 


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Nick Banks

Nick created Front Street Commercial Real Estate Group in 2002 and spent the first eight years developing and acquiring office and retail projects in South Florida as well as North Central Florida. In 2010 the focus of the firm was shifted to primarily serve third party clients and perform brokerage, property management and mortgage banking functions. Nick has personally developed and acquired nearly 200,000 square feet of office and retail properties in markets throughout Florida. Prior to founding Front Street, Nick was the Director of Finance and Dispositions for Stiles Corporation in Fort Lauderdale where he financed and sold over $500 million in commercial real estate. Before joining Stiles, Nick was an Associate Director at GE Capital Real Estate where he sourced over $200 million in financing throughout Florida. Nick is a graduate of the University of Florida with a degree in Finance and a concentration in Real Estate. He serves as a board member and current vice-chair for the United Way of North Central Florida where he also chairs the Development Committee. Nick is actively involved with the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce where he serves as a board member and committee member for the Council for Economic Outreach. He is also a recent graduate of Leadership Gainesville which is a year long leadership program hosted by the Chamber. He is a member of Grace United Methodist Church where he has served as finance chair and as a member of the leadership council. Nick serves as an advisory board member of the University of Florida Bergstrom Center for Real Estate Studies. Nick was recently named chair of the Gainesville committee for the North Florida chapter of Urban Land Institute (ULI). He is a licensed real estate broker in the State of Florida and is a long time member of the International Council of Shopping Centers.

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