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New label for certified regenerative farming announces first international pilot farms

Following the recent announcement of its newest label –  Certified Regenerative by A Greener World (AGW) – the non-profit farm certifier has selected over 50 farms internationally to join the programme’s pilot phase.

Building on AGW’s successful family of leading labels, the new certification will provide a whole-farm assurance of sustainability as it  measures benefits tosoil, water, air, biodiversity, infrastructure, animal welfare and social responsibility. South Africa’s Boschendal, outside Franschhoek, has been selected as a pilot participant in this programme. 

Key features of A Greener World’s Certified Regenerative programme include rigorous,  transparent standards; high animal welfare; a holistic, farmer-led approach; early and broad access to regenerative markets; and a pragmatic, science-based approach. The certification also streamlines auditing and certification of a wide range of practices, helping farms to make multiple meaningful claims through a single audit. With one visit, farmers can demonstrate grass-fed, non-GMO, humane, just, water-friendly, environmentally sustainable practices, free of added hormones, routine antibiotics and toxic chemicals.

The core feature of Certified Regenerative by AGW is a five-year Regenerative Plan developed in partnership with the farmer, whereby farmers and experts assess risk, set goals and track progress toward meaningful milestones. The role of A Greener World is to assess farms’ compliance with their own plan. Currently most regenerative claims are not verified at all, and the few verified labels are either limited in scope or require Organic certification as a prerequisite.

Pilot farms were selected based on a variety of factors including agricultural experience, regenerative principles, market or educational impact and geographical diversity. Farms span four continents and over 10 species, with products ranging from grass-fed lamb to herbs and vegetables. Pilot farms in Australia, Namibia, South Africa, the UK, Canada and the U.S. will partner with A Greener World over the coming year to evaluate standards, plans and auditing procedures. This allows the programme to be trialled and assessed in a range of environments, climates and socio-economic parameters, to ensure that meaningful outcomes are achieved, with refinements made as needed. A Greener World expects to announce its first fully Certified Regenerative by AGW farms and products in 2021.

A Greener World Executive Director, Tozie Zokufa, says,Despite – and in some cases because of – the challenges highlighted by COVID-19, people are reassessing the impact of their food, whether on their own health, the environment or the wider community. Ultimately, it’s about accountability. We see the term ‘regenerative’ being thrown around like ‘sustainable’ was a decade ago, used to ‘greenwash’ products, or make them seem more environmentally sustainable than they actually are.

The interest in our Certified Regenerative by AGW programme has been overwhelming. The excellent applications made for a difficult selection process, but we are thrilled with the results. The innovative farms participating in this pilot are helping to create a certification that both farmers and consumers can trust to deliver a genuinely positive outcome: on the farm, at the table, and for the planet. We know that truly regenerative farming requiresaccountability to each other and to all of the communities to which we belong, whether they be plant, animal, human, or the environment we all share. We have been humbled by the groundswell of interest from farmers and eaters alike and look forward to sharing our collective journey.”

Jason Carroll, Boschendal’s AGW-Certified farmer and pilot participant in South Africa, says, “I applied to AGW because I believe that it has one of the best protocols available. With so many people putting labels on their products, I wanted to be sure that we used a label with integrity. I wanted my customers to know that we don’t just make claims without anyone making sure that we are actually selling what we are marketing.” 

“The team at A Greener World always makes an effort to see all my animals,”

Carroll

“They actually spend time with them and make sure that the AGW protocols are in place. It’s not just filling in a piece of paper over a cup of tea. They actually inspect every detail of the operation. AGW is a label that is recognised all over the world and with the number of international guests we have on the Estate, it gives them the confidence to buy our products knowing that they were produced with the highest standards,” he says.

Carroll, a grass farmer, has a herd of 500 Certified Animal Welfare Approved, Certified Grassfed by AGW Black Angus cattle that are on high density strip grazing and 170 Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW, outdoor, real free-range, pasture-born-and-raised Duroc pigs.

Portia McKnight, AGW-certified dairy farmer and pilot participant in the USA, says, “Participating in AGW’s pilot programme for regenerative farm certification has been an inspirational experience for me. While we think of ourselves as good stewards of the land, and conscientious environmentalists—we had not yet put into place any specific goals for regenerating our little piece of earth, and targets or timelines for achieving those goals,” she says. 

“The application process is truly inspirational, since it requires that farmers participate in writing our own plans for excelling in environmental stewardship, and regenerating our own farmland.”

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