Market-driven incentives for regenerative agriculture have grown at a prolific rate. Companies like Kering, Nestlé, General Mills and PepsiCo have set ambitious targets to source regenerative ingredients or support the transition to regenerative systems on range and farm lands. As a result, there are also a growing number of standards, certifications and verification programs that provide clear measurement criteria for whether a farm or product is “regenerative” (for example Regenerative Organic Standard and Land to Market).

While this progress is promising, our report, Growing our Future: What’s next for regenerative agriculture in the US?, illustrated that these programs almost exclusively focus on criteria for landscape-level or environmental outcomes such as soil health, carbon sequestration, and water. They rarely include criteria related to positive social outcomes.

While new benchmarks have been developed to help large buyers assess environmental outcomes and shift their procurement to regenerative agriculture, there is immense need and potential to prioritize social outcomes

That’s why, as part of the Growing our Future initiative, Forum for the Future has asked:

What if equity, justice, and thriving farm communities were incentivized alongside positive environmental outcomes in regenerative agriculture? What if farm communities were centered in the design and measurement of social metrics?

What we've learned

We have uncovered deeper insights and questions about the overall concept of certification: we’ve learned that producers want to see tangible and long-term benefits for their workforce (farmers, ranchers, and farmworkers), positive outcomes in their own local communities, and fundamental shifts in the dynamics between producers and buyers – things that are not easily captured in a metric or standard. Social metrics alone – while a critical focus area in the building out of standards – will not build an equitable agriculture system if the process of adoption, measurement, and enforcement in itself is inequitable.

Bridging the gap: Including social outcomes in regenerative agriculture standards and certifications

This tool includes recommendations, guidance, and further areas of action for stakeholders to develop criteria and metrics for what ‘just practices’ look like in regenerative agriculture. This ambitious vision for incorporating social outcomes into existing standards and certifications explores how existing standards could support social components of regenerative agriculture.

Download the toolkit

Join us

To join the work on prioritizing social outcomes on the transition a just and regenerative agriculture system, contact Natasha Mehta.

Learn more about the Growing our Future initiative and our work to catalyze the transition to a just and regenerative agriculture system in the US

Funding provided by 

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The research included in the toolkits and publications was made possible through funding by the Walmart Foundation, The VF Foundation, David Rockefeller Fund and Nestlé. The findings, conclusions, and recommendations presented here are those of Forum for the Future alone, and do not necessarily reflect those of our funders.