Following the recent announcement of its newest label, Certified Regenerative by A Greener World (AGW), the nonprofit farm certifier has selected over 50 farms 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, measuring benefits for soil, water, air, biodiversity, infrastructure, animal welfare, and social responsibility.
Key features of the programme include transparent, rigorous 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 grassfed, 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. Experienced agricultural advisors at the UK’s Farming & Wildlife Advisory Group will also be providing training and support in the development of Regenerative Plans. 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, excluding 99% of U.S. farmland and hardwiring practices which are inherently not regenerative.
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 ten species, with products ranging from grassfed 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 trialed and assessed in a range of environments, climates, and socioeconomic parameters to ensure 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. At the end of the day this is 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 are.
The interest in our Certified Regenerative by AGW programme has been overwhelming—and 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 deliver 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 requires accountability 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.”
Portia McKnight, AGW-certified dairy farmer and pilot participant in the U.S., 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. 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.”
Amelia Millman, AGW-certified farmer, National Trust Tenant and pilot participant in the UK with partner Jason Greenway, says,
“As young farmers, we are pleased to be part of the Certified Regenerative by AGW pilot, working in close partnership with the National Trust's Killerton Estate in East Devon towards achieving the National Trust's and our own regenerative farming aspirations.
As one of the new generation of British farmers, we want to promote high welfare and sustainable farming practices as much as possible. Working with the National Trust and being part of A Greener World's pilot regenerative certification will help us to reach that full potential and protect the estate for future generations to enjoy.”