Working together to build uptake of regenerative agriculture in the United States.

For years, agriculture has sat at the heart of some of the world’s most pressing challenges: food security and nutrition, water and soil quality, biodiversity, and sustainable livelihoods. Most recently, COVID-19 has continued to expose the inequalities and weaknesses within existing global supply chains, the vulnerabilities of farmers, and the growing numbers of people unable to afford or access healthy food.

What’s more, agriculture is responsible for 8-10% of US greenhouse gas emissions, driving climate change that is set to reduce the yield and protein value of staple crops.

If we’re to create a more sustainable future, business as usual is no longer an option for farmers, communities, business or governments.

Instead, an approach to farming that puts more back into the environment and society than it takes out is gaining traction. Regenerative agriculture has real potential to create more resilient supply chains, restore soil health and biodiversity, distribute value and access to land equitably, and enable farmers, business and communities to thrive.

But while progress towards regenerative agriculture in the US has accelerated over the last five years, adoption of even the most basic regenerative practices, such as no-till and cover cropping, is still very low - let alone the uptake of more advanced methods such as diversified cropping, silvopasture and alley cropping.

The challenge

The sector faces a three-fold challenge:

  • to urgently transform the way we grow and procure agricultural goods across millions of acres in the United States.
  • As part of this, to fundamentally shift the goal of the agriculture system from ensuring short-term profit maximization for a small number of powerful players to putting more back into the environment and society than it takes out.
  • Across these, to ensure that people across multiple sectors and industries work together effectively to address these challenges and create the urgent, tangible and transformational change needed.

What we’re doing: Growing our Future

In 2019, Forum delivered the first phase of Growing our Future.

With funding from the Walmart Foundation, we led a collaborative process with stakeholders from across the American agriculture system to identify the key barriers and opportunities to scale regenerative agriculture in the US.

View our report Growing our Future: Scaling Regenerative Agriculture in the US

Based on new analysis of the food system, we identified 16 barriers to scale along with seven key areas for collaborative action across the supply chain.

However, there’s much more to be done. Driving change at pace and scale will require effective collaboration which brings key stakeholders together for joined-up, tangible action around these seven areas.

How can we harness current momentum and energy on regenerative agriculture to drive action? How might we engage with those who have the greatest power to activate investment and empower those most impacted by the system? And how do we effectively bring others on this journey?

What’s next? 

Starting in January 2021, with renewed funding from the Walmart Foundation, we’re exploring all this and more. 

Through a series of virtual workshops, Forum is bringing together key players from across the agriculture system to co-create a collaborative platform and establish up to four priority workstreams. 

Over the next three years, each workstream will focus on driving practical, joint action on one of the seven opportunity areas, with a particular focus on building new connections and partnerships, sharing ideas and best practice, and jointly developing new initiatives.  

Collectively, this is set to add up to real change at a systems level to accelerate the adoption of regenerative practices, and to build resilience in food and farming systems in a way that is environmentally sustainable and socially just.

Forum works with organisations that are creating a positive future, both for themselves and by actively working with others to reshape the systems they reply upon. This enables businesses to both ensure their longer term value creation and address vulnerabilities in their current business model. Public and third sector organisations can sharpen their purpose and ensure they are maximising their positive impact across the systems they are working in.

Find out how to join our movement


Page last updated January 2021