Are You a Regenerative Farmer? Tell CDFA That Regeneration Starts With Organic

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Written by Rebekah Weber on Tuesday, March 5, 2024
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Basket of Grapes

Are you a regenerative farmer?

That’s the question the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is answering by defining regenerative agriculture. We need you to share your answer.

Join the virtual listening session on Wednesday, April 3 at 5:30 p.m. Pacific Time and tell CDFA that regeneration starts with organic.

  1. Go to CDFA—Defining Regenerative Agriculture for State Policies and Programs (ca.gov).
  2. Scroll down to Timeline and register for Listening Session #4—Wednesday, April 3 at 5:30 p.m.
  3. Log into the Zoom link on April 3. 
  4. Raise your hand to make a comment and share your name, your farm or business, and why organic should be the base of the regenerative definition.

Here’s the thing: whether you identify as regenerative or not, regeneration of soil health, regeneration of community health, and regeneration of ecosystem health start with organic. Synthetic inputs have no place in the definition of regenerative. 

Here are a few more reasons to start with organic:

  1. Defining regenerative with organic as the base leverages the accountability and verification built into organic certification. 
  2. A state definition of regenerative without third-party verification and inspection will undermine organic certification. After all, a regenerative apple should not receive the same government incentive as an organic apple if it is not produced with the same rigor.
  3. CDFA has a suite of programs, including Healthy Soils and Alternative Manure Management, to support all farmers in adopting climate-smart practices. Defining regenerative is an opportunity to incentivize farmers to go beyond practices to a whole system approach like organic certification.
  4. California’s definition of regenerative matters. Stakeholders across the country are paying attention because businesses will capitalize on the opportunity to market their product as California regenerative. The last thing the market needs is another label with no teeth.

Your voice is crucial. CDFA is paying attention to how many farmers comment. Even if you feel like your comment was already voiced by someone else, please raise your hand anyway. Every comment matters.

Need inspiration? Here’s a sample comment for organic growers:

Thank you for the opportunity to comment. My name is (first and last name), and I have been farming for (number) years. At (name of farm), we grow (list a couple of main crops). We have been certified organic for (number) years. I am here to ask that CDFA define regenerative with organic as the starting point. 

Organic certification requires that I protect people and the planet. I am required to conserve natural resources, to focus on soil health, and to manage pests and diseases without synthetic pesticides. (Share how your farm’s natural resources have improved under organic certification). Organic farming regenerates.

I am concerned that a weak definition of regenerative that does not start with organic will put me out of business. I cannot compete with farmers who are subsidized by the government but are not required to meet the same high standards that I am. Thank you.

Here’s a sample comment for organic businesses:

Thank you for the opportunity to comment. My name is (first and last name), and I own/work at (name of business), based in (city in California). We sell organic (list a couple of main products). I am here to ask that CDFA define regenerative with organic as the starting point.

We source organic ingredients because (share why your business sources organic product). Nationwide, the organic market continues to grow—reaching $67.6 billion last year. California plays a big role in this growth, with 90 percent of households in the state buying organic products on a regular basis.

Our concern is that the state could confuse consumers and undermine this market. After all, government words hold power, and little will stop businesses from marketing their products as “California regenerative.” This potential uptick in regenerative marketing could seriously undermine organic sales. A regenerative product should not be next to an organic product at the grocery store if it doesn’t have the same rigor behind it. Thank you.