As interest in “regenerative agriculture” continues to grow, we are seeing the introduction and evolution of the term in California policies and programs.
The California State Board of Food and Agriculture, as advisory body to the Governor and CDFA Secretary, is positioned to advise on how the State’s farmers, ranchers and consumers may be best served by agricultural policies in the state. Incorporating a definition of regenerative agriculture for state policies and programs provides a science-based criterion for the designation or recognition of the term “regenerative” in agriculture-related policies of the state. By defining “regenerative agriculture” and its associated practices, we are working to formalize holistic methods of farming that are designed to protect, sustain and enhance natural resources on our farms and farming communities throughout California.
In October 2022, the State Board requested CDFA’s Environmental Farming Act Science Advisory Panel (EFA SAP) to assist by conducting a review of existing definitions and literature to help determine common science-based practices related to “regenerative agriculture.” In May 2023, the EFA SAP responded with a recommended framework.
The framework included the following characteristics. 1) Being applicable, relevant and useful for California agriculture; 2) Leading to positive impacts on California’s environmental, social, human health and economic goals, including climate goals; 3) Providing measurable and verifiable outcomes, keeping in mind variability throughout the state, and emphasizing outcomes farmers and ranchers can easily measure and that are not economically burdensome to measure; 4) Allowing for context specific outcomes; 5) Soil health, including elements of physical quality, carbon sequestration, soil biodiversity, and alleviation of climate change as a foundational element.
The public listening sessions will help to inform the State Board’s process, to help provide recommendations on a definition of “regenerative agriculture.” Updates on the public listening sessions and the process for defining “regenerative agriculture” are available at: https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/RegenerativeAg/