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National and International Regenerative Agriculture Advocacy Groups Announce Support for Vermont Regenerative Farm Certification Bill

For Immediate Release

February 10, 2016

Contact:

Aria McLauchlan, Kiss the Ground, aria@kisstheground.com

Katherine Paul, Regeneration International, 207-653-3090, katherine@regenerationinternational.org;

National and International Regenerative Agriculture Advocacy Groups Announce Support for Vermont Regenerative Farm Certification Bill

Vermont Bill Would Establish the Nation’s First Program for Certifying Regenerative Farms.

Los Angeles, California – (Wednesday, Feb 10)

Kiss the Ground and Regeneration International today announced support for Vermont’s Senate Bill 159, a bill that would introduce a state-level certification program under which farmers could have their land and farming methods certified by the state as regenerative.

The bill, introduced by Senator Brian Campion (of Bennington, Bennington County), was first written by Jesse McDougall, a farmer in Shaftsbury, Vt. McDougall employs regenerative farming practices, including planned rotational grazing, which eliminate the need for chemical fertilizers and tilling, and regenerate the soil’s capacity to retain water and sequester carbon.

McDougall had considered pursuing a formal organic certification for his meat products, but decided he wanted to do more than tell customers what’s not in the food––the absence of chemicals and synthetic fertilizers. McDougall sought instead a certification that would tell consumers what is in their food, how the food was raised, and how the land was improved by its production.

“The certification is intended to help legitimize this style of farming as an economically viable option for farmers,” said McDougall. “It is our hope that this certification program not only creates a high-value market for regeneratively-grown food, but also rewards regenerative farmers for their work with better marketing opportunities and bigger margins.”

“As a small, farmer-friendly state and agriculture pioneer, Vermont is perfectly positioned to lead the country with this type of legislation,” said Finian Makepeace, co-founder and policy director at California-based non-profit, Kiss The Ground. “We expect and hope to see many more states adopt similar legislation as part of the regenerative movement that is spreading across the United States and globally.”

Also known as “carbon farming”, regenerative agriculture practices put the emphasis on soil health using nature’s systems to regenerate the land. According to Andre Leu, president of IFOAM – Organics International, “rebuilding soil by sequestering carbon reduces CO2 from the atmosphere and creates land that is more drought resistant and grows healthier, food, plants and animals.”

“The trends are clear. Consumers increasingly want to know more about their food. What’s in it, how it was grown, whether it was locally produced or shipped a long distance, and how humanely animals were treated,” said Ronnie Cummins, member of the Regeneration International Steering Committee, and international director of the Organic Consumers Association. “And as public concern around global warming escalates, consumers are looking for food produced using practices that contribute to a climate solution, rather than to the problem.”

This is the first piece of legislation specific to regenerative agriculture in the United States, and one that serves both farmers and consumers. The certification is intended to result in a State of Vermont seal, visible to consumers at the grocery store and available to certified farmers to share, educate and promote their work.

The certification includes three standard, binary tests: if topsoil has increased; if carbon has been sequestered; or if soil organic matter has increased. A farm would need to meet only one of these criteria, over a three-year period and with each successive year, to be certified as regenerative.

Healthy soil via regenerative agriculture is gaining traction worldwide with “4/1000 Initiative: Soils for Food Security and Climate“, a visionary initiative introduced at last December’s COP21 and signed by 25 countries, to increase the organic carbon level of each country’s agricultural soils by 0.4% each year.

“Regenerative farming can rebuild the soil, sequester carbon, produce nutrient-dense food, and eliminate the need for toxic chemicals,” McDougall says. “If we want the next generation of farmers to do this work, it is our responsibility to provide them with the tools that make it possible. We wrote this bill to begin building those tools.”

The Vermont Senate Committee on agriculture will review Bill 159 in the coming weeks and determine whether it will be included in the next legislative session and continue on to the Senate floor.

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Kiss The Ground is a California-based, 501(c)(3) nonprofit championing regenerative living and the restoration of soil worldwide. Their work is generating awareness through media, education and policy, encouraging participation from individuals, farmers, communities and governments to build back healthy soil.

Regeneration International is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to building a global network of farmers, scientists, businesses, activists, educators, journalists, governments and consumers who will promote and put into practice regenerative agriculture and land-use practices that: provide abundant, nutritious food; revive local economies; rebuild soil fertility and biodiversity; and restore climate stability by returning carbon to the soil, through the natural process of photosynthesis.

Scotland launches ambitious organic food plan to build farming resilience

Author: Philip Case

A bold new action plan for organic food production to help build a more sustainable farming future and regenerate the rural economy is being launched for Scotland.

“Organic Ambitions: An Action Plan for organic food and farming in Scotland 2016-2020” will be unveiled on 27 January.

The new plan will be officially launched on the first day of the Organic Research Centre’s annual conference, being held in Bristol.

Organic Ambitions is a major revision of Organic Futures, an organic action plan produced in 2011 and revised in 2013, which aimed to strengthen Scotland’s organic food sector.

Wendy Seel, chairman of the Scottish Organic Forum, who have built the new plan following an extensive consultation, said: “Organic Ambitions will aim to build knowledge about organics, strength in the organic supply chain and skills across the organic sector.”

Keep Reading in Farmers Weekly

Anna Swaraj

Mahatma Gandhi’s spinning wheel and Gandhi’s ghani (the indigenous cold press oil mill) are both symbols of swadeshi as economic freedom and economic democracy.

Gandhi inspired everyone in India to start spinning their own cloth in order to break free from the imperial control over the textile industry, which enslaved our farmers to grow cotton and indigo for the mills of Lancashire and Manchester, and dumped industrial clothing on India, destroying the livelihoods of our spinners and weavers. The spinning wheel and khadi became our symbols of freedom.

Gandhi promoted the ghani to create employment for the farmer and processor and to produce healthy, safe and nutritious edible oils for society. What the spinning wheel is to “kapda”, the economy of clothing and textiles, the “ghani” is to “roti”, the economy of food.

Fresh, local and artisanally processed food without chemical additives and industrial processing is recognised as the healthiest alternative. That is why until the 1990s, food processing was reserved for the small-scale and cottage industry sector. The World Trade Organisation rules changed our food and agriculture systems dramatically.

Today we are living in food imperialism. We have become a sick nation due to the rapid spread of industrially processed food and junk food, which are destroying our healthy food traditions.

Keep Reading on Asia Age

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Fixing Food: Fresh Solutions from Five U.S. Cities (2016)

The nation’s cities are at the frontlines of a food system that sickens and impoverishes millions of Americans every year. Local communities where people live, shop, work, and receive healthcare bear the brunt of this system’s unhealthy, unjust outcomes, which disproportionately affect communities of color and low-income Americans.

In response, many local governments and community leaders are launching innovative efforts to make healthy food more available and affordable. Fixing Food presents case studies of programs from five U.S. cities that are helping residents grow and sell healthy food, training the next generation of farmers, and bringing healthy food to places where people gather.

The case studies

We reviewed hundreds of initiatives taking place in hundreds of U.S. cities, ultimately choosing five local efforts that show how healthy food access problems can be addressed at multiple points in the food system—by facilitating local production, creating new distribution channels, or making it easier for consumers to overcome time and transportation hurdles.

The five cities chosen—Oakland, Memphis, Louisville, Baltimore, and Minneapolis—all have populations between 400,000 and 700,000, and in all of them, the percentage of residents living below the federal poverty line is higher than the national average.

We hope these case studies may provide models that other local communities can learn from and adapt to their own unique challenges and needs. But they also demonstrate the need for comprehensive national food policy reform.

Keep Reading on the Union of Concerned Scientists

The Future of the Organic Movement: Organic 3.0

Author: Susanna Byrd

Organic is due for a re-haul, according to a recent discussion paper released by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) during the International Organic Exposition held in Goesan, Korea in October. The report, Organic 3.0: For Truly Sustainable Farming and Consumption, proposes the worldwide launch of a new phase of the organic movement.

From the visionary phase of organic agriculture in the early 20th century (termed Organic 1.0) to the acceptance of industry regulation and certification from the 1970s to the present (Organic 2.0), the movement towards sustainable food systems has enjoyed growth and success. By 2015, 82 countries had implemented regulations for organic food systems. By 2013, the global market for organic food was valued at US$72 billion.

Despite these accomplishments, however, organic agriculture currently represents less than 1 percent of global land and food production. The IFOAM report argues that the world must now enter into a new organic paradigm, referred to as Organic 3.0, which would address and resolve shortfalls of the current movement. The ultimate goal of Organic 3.0 is to propel organic agriculture out of its current “niche” role and towards a mainstream acceptance of organic practices, along every node of the supply chain. Organic 3.0 proposes a global effort “positioning organic as a modern, innovative system which puts the results and impacts of farming in the foreground.”

The report repeatedly emphasizes the idea of “true sustainability,” admitting that current organic systems struggle to address issues like fair pricing, new farming technologies, and the important role of smallholder, non-certified farmers.

Keep Reading in Food Tank

The MIF and GESGIAP will implement a mechanism to compensate Mexican producers for soil carbon capture and to mitigate climate change

[ Español ]

The Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), member of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Group recently approved a US $845,000 for a project with the Sierra Gorda Ecological Group, I.A.P (GESGIAP). The project will seek to enhance the capacity of 5,000 small-scale producers and market gardeners to mitigate and adapt to climate change through the transfer of a holistic management approach that will allow them to regenerate the soil, improve productivity and generate ecosystem services, such as carbon sequestration and water infiltration.  The adoption of the holistic approach will also help them increase their income, lower costs for inputs and get compensation for carbon sequestration in the soil.

Soil degradation in Mexico affects two out of three hectares, resulting in a loss of 10% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This issue is affected by weather events like floods, droughts and changes in the frequency and intensity of rain, but the main cause of soil degradation in the country (35%) is associated with agricultural and livestock activities. The agricultural sector is regarded as one of the main contributors to the emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs) but at the same time the sector has significant potential for mitigating climate change.  According to the Special Climate Change Program 2014-2018 for Mexico, by 2020 the agricultural sector will be the fifth leading GHG emitter in the country, accounting for 14% of emissions. The program’s main strategies include the implementation of sustainable agricultural, forestry, and fishery practices that reduce emissions and the vulnerability of ecosystems and the development of instruments to promote their implementation.

The approved project aims to address this problem through three actions. First, it will build awareness, train and provide technical assistance to producers through workshops, the establishment of demonstration pilots, the development of grazing plans as well as regional and national forums that facilitate exchanges of knowledge between peers. Second, a measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) system will be designed and implemented to promote transparency in the actions of mitigation attributed to the adoption of the holistic management methodology (monitoring soil carbon sequestration and biological recovery). Third, once the mitigation actions are verified, small-scale producers will be compensated, for their use of the holistic methodology, by a sub-national mechanism that will channel resources from environmental taxes to make the payment for environmental services to small producers. Additionally, these compensations will be offered to companies and/or individuals that wish to neutralize or mitigate their carbon footprint through an online platform.

Keep Reading on the Multilateral Investment Fund’s Website

Carbon Finance Possibilities for Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use Projects in a Smallholder Context

Abstract

This booklet is intended to guide extension service advisors and institutions who work with small-scale farmers and foresters with an interest in Carbon Finance and Carbon Projects. Its aim is to support setting-up carbon projects which involve small-scale farmers. Their participation allows them to be involved in the development and implementation of the project, influence the design of the project to generate positive impacts for the farmers and increase their knowledge about carbon finance. The definition of a small-scale farmer differs between and within countries. In most cases it is a farmer who cultivates less than one hectare of land and has diverse sources of livelihood. The guide is structured into five sections: first, the background of climate change is explained (1); second, an introduction is given to how the carbon market works (2); this is followed by an explanation of carbon project development and the timeline and project size to take into account for planning (3); four, costs to be expected during the development of carbon projects are summarised, as well as benefits (4); finally, different funds and grants are presented (5). This booklet will need constant updating, as the political framework is changing very fast, causing changes in legislation, as well as actors, funds and regulations. In addition, the available data, research and knowledge for the development of carbon projects is constantly improving which will facilitate their future upgrowth.

Download the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Report

Small Scale Farmers Cool the Planet

Fair World Project: “Small-Scale Farmers Cool the Planet.” A 17-minute documentary highlighting the role of industrial agriculture in climate change while expounding on how small farmers are combating the climate crisis through regenerative organic agriculture.

Watch More Videos on Fair World Project’s Youtube Channel

Take Action: Write President Obama and tell him the time for climate action is now and supporting and safeguarding small farmers is the way to do it.

Trade Deals Criminalise Farmers’ Seeds

 [ 中文 | Español | Français ]

What could be more routine than saving seeds from one season to the next? After all, that is how we grow crops on our farms and in our gardens. Yet from Guatemala to Ghana, from Mozambique to Malaysia, this basic practice is being turned into a criminal offence, so that half a dozen large multinational corporations can turn seeds into private property and make money from them.

But people are fighting back and in several countries popular mobilisations are already forcing governments to put seed privatisation plans on hold.

GRAIN has produced an updated dataset on how so-called free trade agreements are privatising seeds across the world.

Guatemala’s trade agreement with the US obliges it to adhere to the UPOV Convention. But popular resistance forced the government to repeal a national law passed for this purpose. (Photo: Raúl Zamora)

Trade agreements have become a tool of choice for governments, working with corporate lobbies, to push new rules to restrict farmers’ rights to work with seeds. Until some years ago, the most important of these was the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). Adopted in 1994, TRIPS was, and still is, the first international treaty to establish global standards for “intellectual property” rights over seeds.1 The goal is to ensure that companies like Monsanto or Syngenta, which spend money on plant breeding and genetic engineering, can control what happens to the seeds they produce by preventing farmers from re-using them – in much the same way as Hollywood or Microsoft try to stop people from copying and sharing films or software by putting legal and technological locks on them.

But seeds are not software. The very notion of “patenting life” is hugely contested. For this reason, the WTO agreement was a kind of global compromise between governments. It says that countries may exclude plants and animals (other than micro-organisms) from their patent laws, but they must provide some form of intellectual property protection over plant varieties, without specifying how to do that.

Keep Reading in GRAIN