Regenerative farms spanning four continents, including the Westcountry, have been enlisted to take part in the pilot of a trailblazing new certification scheme. Following the recent reveal of its newest label, Certified Regenerative, non-profit certifier A Greener World (AGW) has selected over 50 farmers to join the programme’s trial phase.
The 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.
Building on AGW’s growing family of trusted labels, which includes Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW, Certified Grassfed by AGW and Certified Non-GMO by AGW, the first fully Certified Regenerative by AGW farms and products are expected to be announced later this year.
Wayne Copp, executive director of AGW UK / Europe, said: “The term ‘regenerative’ is already being thrown around like ‘sustainable’ was a decade ago, and is being used to ‘greenwash’ products or make them seem more environmentally sustainable than they are.
“Our new Certified Regenerative by AGW programme seeks to protect farmers and consumers by establishing clear standards and a label that farmers and consumers can trust to deliver a genuinely positive outcome: on the farm, at the table, and for the planet.”
Interest in the Certified Regenerative by AGW programme has been “overwhelming”, added Mr Copp, who farms in Woolacombe, North Devon. “The excellent applications made for a difficult selection process, but we are thrilled with the results.
“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.”
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 (FWAG) will also be providing training and support in the development of regenerative plans.
Mr Copp said the role of AGW 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 the vast majority of farmland and hardwiring practices which are inherently not regenerative,” he continued.
Pilot farms were selected based on a variety of factors including agricultural experience, regenerative principles, market or educational impact and geographical diversity. With products ranging from grass-fed lamb to herbs and vegetables, the cohort of farms spread throughout the UK, Australia, Namibia, South Africa, Canada and the USA will partner AGW over the coming year to evaluate standards, plans and auditing procedures – allowing the programme to be trialled and assessed in a range of environments, climates and socioeconomic parameters.