Smithfield Foods, Inc., and Roeslein Alternative Energy (RAE) have formed a joint venture called Monarch Bioenergy to produce renewable natural gas (RNG) on Smithfield’s hog farms in Missouri. This project converts manure collected from Smithfield farms into RNG, while also benefiting ecological services and developing wildlife habitat. Read more about Smithfield and Roeslein’s previous work here.
“This joint venture represents our continued commitment to doing business in a way that is good for our planet and its people,” said Kenneth M. Sullivan, president and chief executive officer for Smithfield Foods. “This innovative collaboration creates value for our company and our partners, and benefits the environment as we work to feed the world’s growing population.”
Monarch Bioenergy builds upon the successful first phase of Smithfield and RAE’s groundbreaking “manure-to-energy” project across nine Smithfield farms in northern Missouri, which is the largest project of its kind. Capturing methane emissions from hog farms and convert them into pipeline-quality natural gas, which will be distributed to RNG markets across the country.
When complete, through Monarch Bioenergy, Smithfield’s company-owned finishing farms in Missouri will have the infrastructure to produce 1.3 million dekatherms of RNG annually—the equivalent of 130,000 gasoline vehicles.
The biogas created by Monarch Bioenergy is transported through a gas gathering network and purified in a centrally located gas cleaning system designed and installed by RAE. This project produces biogas that has received the lowest carbon intensity score ever recorded.
Monarch Bioenergy will also sustainably harvest native prairie plants and cover crops that have been restored on highly-erodible lands. The biomass will be digested to produce additional RNG in Missouri. This project leverages harvested prairie plants to create biomass for RNG production while also providing wildlife habitat for monarch butterflies. These are critical components of Smithfield and RAE’s holistic vision for creating renewable energy in a way that wisely utilizes land resources, prevents fertilizer runoff into watersheds, improves soil organic matter, and cools the atmosphere through natural transpiration while creating critical new wildlife and pollinator habitat.
“From their leadership in creating renewable energy and in conservation, Smithfield is changing what it means to be a food company,” said Rudi Roeslein, president of RAE. “Smithfield’s willingness to embrace the power of prairie proves the industry can play a meaningful role in seizing the economic benefits of conservation.”
Monarch Bioenergy is part of Smithfield Renewables, Smithfield’s platform to unify and accelerate its carbon reduction and renewable energy efforts. Launched in 2016, Smithfield Renewables helps the company meet its industry-leading goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 25% by 2025. To learn more about Smithfield’s carbon reduction efforts, please visit smithfieldfoods.com/environment.
“We are extremely grateful that Smithfield is committed to this vision. It begins with converting methane from hog manure to renewable natural gas. But that’s the tip of the iceberg. We hope to show the agriculture community, with the help of our joint venture partner Smithfield, how to take all these steps and make an enormous impact for energy, the environment, and wildlife,” Roeslein said.