Major Food Brands Partnering on Climate Change, Healthy Soil
As more brands and customers add social and environmental responsibility to their list of must-haves, the latest announcement is several major food brands banding together to improve the health of agricultural soils and fend off climate change.
The participating brands, including Ben & Jerry’s, Annie’s/General Mills and MegaFood, have begun development of a global verification standard for food grown in a regenerative manner. The new standard encourages farmers to restore the carbon cycle, bolster crop resilience and improve nutrient density of soils used to grow foods. The tie-up is a partnership with The Carbon Underground and Green America.
This work builds upon the Regenerative Agriculture Definition created in 2017 by The Carbon Underground, California State/Chico, and the Regenerative Agriculture Initiative that includes over 150 companies, organizations and scientists as signatories. The core design team for the new standard also includes farmers, ranchers, soil scientists and certification experts and includes input and agreement from nearly 50 organizations on the goals of the new standard, which include:
- Ability to rapidly achieve impact
- Outcomes-based metrics, that can be verified and enforced
- Value, viability and flexibility for farmers, with credit for outcomes already achieved
- Clarity and transparency for supply chains
- Compatibility with related standards, such as Regenerative Organic, Organic, and Non-GMO. (Companies or growers who have invested in complementary standards will have those achievements recognized within this program, but they are not mandatory.)
- Flexibility for improvements as new data become available
“The goal of this new standard is not simply to restore soil, but to do it quickly,” said Larry Kopald, president and co-founder of The Carbon Underground. “The windows for avoiding catastrophic climate change and complete topsoil loss are projected to close in decades, not centuries.”
The key objective is to create a scalable, achievable standard that can work across the Global Supply Chain. Benefits of implementing these actions include greater food security, more stable supply chains, greater viability of farmers, and draw down of carbon from the atmosphere to mitigate climate change and rebalance the carbon cycle.
“By shifting to regenerative agricultural practices, which, by definition, work with nature, we can leverage photosynthesis to restore the water and carbon cycles,” said Dave Rapaport, global social mission officer at Ben & Jerry’s. “Working to avoid the irreversible effects of climate change and the loss of our remaining top soil.”