CHS updates

Amplifying the CHS sustainability journey

Image of a grain elevator in sunset.

CHS sustainability efforts are focused on three fundamentals.

Aug 03, 2020

CHS was built on a foundation of sustainability. While the term “sustainability” has received much more attention over the past few years, agricultural cooperatives were created to help farmers be more sustainable through better input buying and market access.

CHS Sustainability Wheel

The idea of sustainability isn’t new to CHS and a concentrated effort is underway to elevate efforts around sustainability for CHS and its businesses. This intentional approach will help ensure sustainability remains top of mind for CHS employees and provides added value for owners.

It all starts with our purpose and values,” says Jim Zappa, executive vice president and general counsel and the executive sponsor for sustainability at CHS. “How do we make sure that we're putting our communities first every day? How do we show cooperative spirit? How do we make sure that we're advancing the cooperative system?” We are addressing sustainability in a way that aligns with our values and advances our enterprise strategies as we create connections to empower agriculture."

What sustainability means for CHS

Three fundamentals make up the CHS approach to sustainability:

  • Economic viability: Striving for shared prosperity with owners and employees to drive long-term strength and growth
  • Environmental stewardship:Maintaining healthy places in which to live and work, caring for and making effective use of natural resources
  • Community well-being:Being vested in and supporting strong communities, where people feel safe and valued and have opportunities to learn and thrive together

Within each fundamental, CHS teams have established sustainability focus areas with areas of strength and opportunities for improvement.

The fundamentals combine to support all of CHS and its owners.“We wanted to determine how to benefit from having a coordinated platform for sustainability,” says Mark Biedenfeld, vice president, CHS Cooperative Resources, and the sustainability initiative project leader. “CHS businesses have had sustainability-related initiatives in place for several years. We knew that addressing sustainability at an enterprise level would open opportunities for efficiencies and shared resources. We want to support the efforts of the business units and their customers, while meeting the needs of our owners and our current and future employees.” 

This is not a one- or two-year project, Zappa adds, but an ongoing effort that is evolving into a mindset and becoming part of the fabric of CHS decision-making and operations.

This work will be successful when actions that further sustainability become part of the CHS culture,” says Zappa. “We want to drive performance, so sustainability is not just a word we say, but how we think. And we will strive for transparency through clear metrics and accurate reporting, so we can be sure our efforts are making a difference in our focus areas.”

Learn more about CHS sustainability initiatives at