Raising the bar for sustainable brands in the US - one shampoo at a time

| 7th March 2018
The major US brands that do place a high value on sustainable production methods can now add a new certification to their eco credentials. But to become Regenerative Organic Certified (ROC) requires an increased commitment to soil health, animal welfare and farm labour, as CATHERINE HARTE reports

The new certification for regenerative organic agriculture will set a high bar for brands, provide guidance to consumers and take this urgently needed movement to the next level.

A new standard in sustainable production methods has been launched  by a group of  leading US businesses and organisations, including the outdoor company Patagonia and natural health and beauty brand Dr. Bronner's.

Regenerative Organic Certified (ROC) is a holistic agriculture certification encompassing robust, high-bar standards for ensuring soil health and ecological land management, pasture-based animal welfare, and fairness for farmers and workers.

It's the brainchild of  The Regenerative Organic Alliance, a non-profit diverse coalition led by Rodale Institute, the global leader in regenerative organic agriculture and supported by a number of other businesses in the areas of farming, ranching, soil health, animal welfare, and farmer and worker fairness.

Stamp of sustainability

ROC was created to model an ecological and ethical system for agricultural production that addresses the problems of factory farming, climate change, and economic injustice, locally and globally.

Its objectives include, increase soil organic matter over time and sequester atmospheric carbon in soil, model high-bar pasture-based animal welfare, provide economic stability and fairness for farmers, ranchers and workers and create resilient regional ecosystems and communities.

The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) organic standard is the bedrock of the ROC. Only products that are certified under the USDA organic program are eligible to meet the Regenerative Organic Certified criteria.

With this as a baseline, the Regenerative Organic Certified standard addresses next-level soil health and also adds in requirements for animal welfare and farm labor.

With ROC, consumers will know they are buying a product that addresses the environmental impacts of agriculture, animal treatment and fair and safe working conditions for farmers and farm workers. Also, since regenerative farming practices will enhance carbon sequestration, they will also be supporting the fight to mitigate climate change.

New model

David Bronner, cosmic engagement officer ( CEO) of Dr. Bronner's, said: “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.

“It’s imperative we act now to mitigate climate change. We need to shift our food production system to make regenerative organic agriculture the new model, both locally and globally.”

Regenerative Organic Certification was created with the hope it would be adopted by companies and producers on a broad scale. Brands in the food, fibre and natural products industries have already shown an interest.

Pilot audits will launch in the coming months with a small group of certifiers and producers to understand how the ROC standards can be implemented at the farm and ranch level, with the goal of having Regenerative Organic Certified products appearing on shelves within the next two years.

Rose Marcario, CEO of Patagonia, said: “At Patagonia, we are no strangers to leading big shifts and marketing them to customers. We know what it takes to shift supply chains and launch new certifications.

“Today, we are determined to help lead another big shift with regenerative organic agriculture because the future of the planet is at stake. The new certification for regenerative organic agriculture will set a high bar for brands, provide guidance to consumers and take this urgently needed movement to the next level.”

Regenerative Organic Alliance

Jeff Moyer, executive director of the Rodale Institute added: “For 70 years, Rodale Institute has been using science and data to showcase organic agriculture’s ability to make positive change in the world."

“Farming can either create some of the world’s greatest challenges or solve them. Regenerative organic agriculture is our opportunity to solve them. It’s farming like more than yields and profit matter. That healthy soil, clean air, and water are just as important. That people and communities matter. It’s farming like we don’t just need to feed people for the next 100 years, but forever.”

The Regenerative Organic Alliance was established to continuously review and update the certification guidelines. Other members include: Compassion in World Farming, Demeter, Fair World Project, Grain Place Foods, Maple Hill Creamery, and White Oak Pastures.

This Author

Catherine Harte is contributing editor of The Ecologist.  This story is based on a news release from Dr. Bronner's. To learn more about the Regenerative Organic Certification standard, visit: https://regenorganic.org/.

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