Posted  28 Sep, 2017 
In: Courses

Originally published on the Rodale Institute

Rodale Institute has pioneered regenerative organic agriculture since our founder, J.I. Rodale, wrote “Healthy Soil=Healthy Food=Healthy People” on a chalkboard back in 1942. His son, Robert Rodale, coined the term ‘regenerative organic agriculture’ to distinguish a kind of farming that goes beyond simply ‘sustainable.’ To us, that always meant agriculture improving the resources it uses, rather than destroying or depleting them. It is a holistic systems approach to farming that encourages continual innovation for environmental, social, economic and spiritual wellbeing.

Today, we’re proud to announce the new Regenerative Organic Certification, a cooperative effort among a coalition of farmers, ranchers, nonprofits, scientists, and brands, led by Rodale Institute, to establish a new, high-bar standard for regenerative organic agriculture. Owned by this coalition, the standard will be administered by NSF International and is open to many certification partners. The standard encompasses guidelines for soil health and land management, animal welfare, and farmer and worker fairness. Regenerative Organic Certification builds upon the near 100-year legacy of organic movement visionaries like J.I. Rodale and Dr. Rudolf Steiner, and provides stepwise guidance for farming and ranching operations, transportation, slaughter, and processing facilities that produce food, cosmetics, and fiber.

The goals of Regenerative Organic Certification are to increase soil organic matter over time, improve animal welfare, provide economic stability and fairness for farmers, ranchers, and workers, and create resilient regional ecosystems and communities.

The environmental outcomes of a systemic shift to regenerative organic agricultural practices could be profound. In 2014, research by Rodale Institute estimated that if current crop acreage and pastureland shifted to regenerative organic practices, 100% of annual global CO2 emissions could be sequestered in the soil.

Regenerative Organic Certification does not aim to supplant current organic standards. Instead, this certification aims to support these standards while at the same time facilitate widespread adoption of holistic, regenerative practices throughout agriculture. It builds upon the standards set forth by USDA Organic and similar programs internationally, particularly in the areas of animal welfare and farmer and worker fairness.

If you are interested in reviewing and commenting on the full Regenerative Organic Certification requirements, please click here to review and contact Jessica Evans, Director of Standards Development at NSFThere is a 30-day comment period, last day to comment is October 12, 2017. After the public comment period is complete, brands, farmers, and ranchers are encouraged to embrace these practices, incorporate them into their supply chains, and create a market for Regenerative Organic Certified products.

Regenerative Organic Certificate Goals:

– Increase soil organic matter over time, and sequester carbon in the soil
– Improve animal welfare
– Provide economic stability and fairness for farmers, ranchers, and workers
– Create resilient regional ecosystems and communities

Three Pillars:

Soil Health*

– No/low Tillage
– Cover Crops
– Crop Rotations
– Rotational Grazing
– No Synthetic Inputs
– No GMOs or Gene Editing
– Promotes Biodiversity
– Builds Soil Organic Matter
– No Soilless Systems

* Leverages USDA Organic, Biodynamic, etc.

Social Fairness*

– Living Wages
– No Child Labor
– No Forced Labor
– Maximum Working Hours
– Fair Pricing for Buyers/Farmers
– Long-Term Commitments

* Leverages AJP, Fair Trade, FFL, SPP, etc.

Animal Welfare*

– Five Freedoms
– Grass-Fed / Pasture-Raised
– No CAFOs
– Suitable Shelter
– Minimize Transport Distances

* Leverages GAP 4+, AWA, Cert. Humane, etc.

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