Farm co-ops back global framework to promote regenerative agriculture

With climate change set to decrease the productivity of farming globally by up to 30%, the industry is at a “critical moment”, warns the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative

Agri co-ops Arla, Dairy Farmers of America, FrieslandCampina and Ocean Spray have joined an international group of leading agri-food organisations to back a global framework for regenerative agriculture.

The Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI) Platform announced the launch of the Regenerating Together framework with the backing of over 30 industry players, which also include Nestlé, Danone, Unilever and PepsiCo.

SAI says this is the first globally aligned approach for the transition to regenerative agriculture practices.

Jo Lawrence, senior manager for agriculture sustainability global concepts at Arla Foods, a founding member of Regenerating Together, said: “Our farmer owners are experts for their farm in many aspects regarding soil, water and biodiversity and many are already practising regenerative farming practices within their individual context.

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“What they need from us and the wider industry to accelerate their efforts is an agreed-upon science-based framework for regenerative farming as a concept and a way to measure the direct impact and that is exactly what the Regenerating Together programme offers. As one of its founding members, we at Arla Foods are excited to drive forward the future of regenerative agriculture.”

SAI warns that, with climate change set to decrease the productivity of farming globally by up to 30%, the industry is at a “critical moment”.

“The Regenerating Together framework and broader programme unite the food and beverage industry to bring about large-scale, long-term systemic change to future-proof global food supply,“ it adds.

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The framework sees over 30 agriculture co-operatives, industry giants and the broader 170-strong SAI Platform membership commit to a global standard for regenerative agriculture. In collaboration with farmers, academia, NGOs and member businesses, SAI says it has established an aligned approach to agriculture that aims to mitigate and adapt to the impact of climate change, improve soil health, support biodiversity, retain water in the soil and reduce its consumption while keeping farmers’ business viability central in a just transition approach.

The programme “aims to unite the agriculture industry with a common goal – a resilient and productive food system that will regenerate natural ecosystems and improve the quality of farmers’ livelihoods,” it says.

The framework is designed for practical use at farm-level to drive farmers’ transition to regenerative agriculture. Itis designed to allow crops, dairy and beef farmers anywhere in the world to work with supply chain partners to achieve measurable regenerative agriculture outcomes and enable the industry to translate the “often-ambiguous” concepts of regenerative agriculture into action at farm level.

In addition, the framework will be integrated into SAI Platform’s existing industry solutions including the European Roundtable for Beef Sustainability (ERBS), the Farm Sustainability Assessment (FSA) and the Sustainable Dairy Partnership (SDP).

The programme identifies four key areas of impact – water, soil, biodiversity and climate – and has devised four clear steps through which to enact the framework: risk screening assessment, outcome selection, the adoption of principles and practices and the monitoring and assessment of progress.