KeepHealthCare.ORG – Agriculture Certification Ensures Soil Health, Faces Factory Farming and Captures Carbon, Alliance Claims
A new agriculture certification structure, Regenerative Organic Certified, will help ensure soil health and ecological land management, model pasture-based animal welfare, create resilient regional ecosystems and communities, and provide economic stability for farmers and ranchers, the founding coalition hopes. Regenerative Organic Certified (ROC) is being launched later this year by the Regenerative Organic Alliance, a coalition of organizations and businesses including Patagonia, Horizon Organic, Dr. Bronner’s, Rodale Institute, Grain Place Foods, White Oak Pastures, and more. It was created to “model an ecological and ethical system for ag ricultural production that addresses the problems of factory farming, climate change, and economic injustice, locally and globally,” the alliance states. Certification will also, over time, increase carbon capture in soil.
Only products that are certified under the USDA organic program are eligible to meet the ROC criteria. With the requirement that farms achieve organic certification as a baseline, the ROC standard addresses next-level soil health and also adds in requirements for animal welfare and farm labor. With ROC, consumers will know that they are buying a product that addresses the environmental impacts of agriculture and supports the fight to mitigate climate change, according to the Regenerative Organic Alliance.
The certification is focused around three “pillars,” including soil health, social fairness and animal welfare, each with a number of focal points. The soil health pillar, for example, will focus on building soil organic matter, cover crops, crop rotation, no use of GMOs or gene editing, no soilless systems, no synthetic inputs, and promoting biodiversity.
The alliance has released guidelines for bronze, silver and gold certification for the three pillars of soil health, animal welfare, and social fairness.
Agriculture Changes Hold Great Potential
Agriculture is a major source of powerful greenhouse gases like methane and other short-lived climate pollutants, but sustainable agriculture has great potential to store carbon and reduce greenhouse gases. The livestock sector, for example, could readily reduce emissions by about 30% with the adoption of best practices, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.
On average, organic farms have 44% higher levels of humic acid, the component of soil that sequesters carbon over the long term, than soils not managed organically, the National Soil Project at Northeastern University and the Organic Center said in a study released last fall.
Agriculture is one of the main causes of the depletion of carbon in the soil and the increased presence of carbon in our atmosphere, according to a different study published by the National Academy of Sciences. Organic farming can play a key role in restoring soil carbon and in reducing the causes of climate change, the study suggested.
“Industrial agriculture and the factory farming of animals are top contributors to climate change, but these are also two practices that we can comprehensively improve through specific ecological and ethical approaches to farming. And that model, regenerative organic agriculture will bring real, immediate results,” says David Bronner, CEO of Dr. Bronner’s.
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