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New Regenerative Organic Certification Champions Healthy Soil And Healthy Farmers

The Rodale Institute’s new label goes beyond USDA organic.

There’s a new organic label in town, and it’s definitely one you’ll want to pay attention to.

The Regenerative Organic Certified Label builds on the standards set by the USDA organic label by putting a strong emphasis on soil quality and, most notably, setting social fairness benchmarks that focus on the health and safety of farm workers.

The Rodale Institute, which is spearheading the Regenerative Organic Certification label along with a coalition of farmers, scientists, nonprofits, and sustainably-minded companies, aims to plug the gaps in the USDA standards and address some of these long-held consumer concerns. The Regenerative Organic Certification consists of three pillars: soil health, social fairness, and animal welfare.

The first pillar, soil health, is one of the founding principles of the Rodale Institute and has been the basis for much of their research over the past 70 years. They believe that organic agriculture should do more than just strive to mitigate damage to soil; instead, it should—and can—improve soil quality over time by adding nutrients and building up organic matter. In fact, research conducted by the Institute in 2014 estimated that if all current farmland and pasture shifted to regenerative organic practices, 100% of annual carbon dioxide emissions could be sequestered in the soil. The Regenerative Organic Certification moves towards making this a reality by promoting the use of cover crops, no or low tillage, and rotational grazing. (This small farm used regenerative practices to save farmland damaged by conventional practices, including pesticides and over tilling.)