Regenerative Organic Certification Prioritizes Environment and Farmworker Justice

Regenerative Organic Certification Prioritizes Environment and Farmworker Justice

The Regenerative Organic Certified (ROC) program(1) | #Regenerative Organic Certified (ROC) program | is a rigorous sustainability certification, one that can be applied to foods, fibers, and personal care products. It is now available publicly after a yearlong pilot phase.
The first ROC-certified products are available from such producers as Dr. Bronner’s, Nature’s Path, Patagonia Provisions, and others. 
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ROC Standards
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The ROC standards were first developed in 2017. They are based on three main pillars: soil health and land management, animal welfare, and farmer and worker fairness. 
Farms and producers may win three different levels of evaluation: gold, silver, and bronze. If a grower or producer wishes to advance up the tiers, they can make improvements to continually progress.
Living Trust of Earth
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As Regenerative Organic Alliance (ROA) Executive Director Elizabeth Whitlow explains, the purpose of the Regenerative Organic Alliance is to embody “the living trust of the Earth. … Any holistic system encompasses the health of all the living beings in that farming community.”
One important aspect of this is humane treatment of livestock. Another aspect is fair and humane treatment for laborers, and paying farmers a premium.
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Getting ROC Certified
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Eligibility for ROC certification starts with getting certified as organic | Learn more on Commonshare |. Once a producer has achieved this, they must then meet additional ROC criteria for sustainable and equitable practices. 
Some of the requirements include crop rotation and yearlong cover, rotational grazing, livestock feed from organic or regenerative sources, and protections for workers against harassment, wage theft, and intimidation.
The Three Tiers: Bronze, Silver, and Gold 
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At the bronze certification tier, a grower has demonstrated that a minimum of 25% of their land has met ROC criteria, a proportion that must reach 50% within 5 years. 
At the silver level, 50% of land must be compliant, and 75% within 5 years. At the gold level, 100% of land and revenues must meet all qualifications immediately. 
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The Impact of ROC
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Birgit Cameron, managing director of Patagonia Provisions, pointed to industrial techniques and harmful chemicals used in conventional agriculture as the source of devastating human health and environmental impacts. 
“Switching to regenerative organic practices builds healthy soil and draws even more carbon back into the ground, turning our agricultural system from problem to solution,” Cameron said.
A More All-Encompassing Framework
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The ROA’s Director Whitlow explains that while USDA organic certification | Learn more on Commonshare | is good, her organization thought that a more all-encompassing framework was necessary to encourage customers to support more environmentally friendly products.
The ROA’s cost structure is designed to be friendly to small farmers. Obtaining ROC certification only requires payment of a fee of approximately 0.1% of sales for farms and 0.2% of sales for brands.
Vision for the Future 
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Whitlow’s next goal is fund-raising for a cost-share program to support farmers making the transition to greener, more sustainable practices of . She explains that the global crisis “we’re in right now is highlighting the need for systemic change in our farming systems and food supplies.” 
Lexicon:
Regenerative Organic Certified (ROC) program website | https://regenorganic.org/ |

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