What essentially is regenerative agriculture and is there a label for it? Can yet another certification change the agriculture world? In this episode of Investing in Regenerative Agriculture, Elizabeth Whitlow helps us make sense of these questions. Elizabeth is the executive director of the Regenerative Organic Alliance (ROA) who are building the revolutionary new certification for food, fiber, and personal care ingredients.
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An interview about the importance of certifications or labels in existence with label fatigue. This conversation dives deep into the whys and how of creating the gold standard of regenerative certification.
Organic as The Basis for Regenerative
The Regenerative Organic Alliance (ROA) creates the highest standard for regenerative organics in the world. ROA envisions a future of agriculture that stands on three main pillars: soil health, animal welfare, and farmworker fairness.
Elizabeth shares the process of how this has all come together to take organic to the next level.
“ROA was founded by a group of stakeholders, long-time advocates, and pioneers in the organic sector, Rodale Institute. They looked into what was happening in organic and saw that there were concerns about the direction that organic was going. This was seen as a weakening of the organic standard. They wanted to essentially put a stake in the ground to keep organic strong, because it composed a huge portion of their supply chains.” – Elizabeth Whitlow
Regenerative Organic Certification (ROC)
Regenerative Organic Certification was established to leverage and combine existing high quality certifications to lessen audit and paperwork. ROC is a farm level certification that is brand driven, through hiring quality managers and working on developing systems in complete accordance with ISO standards. In the coming year, they aim to achieve excellent systematic decisions and conformity assessment which meet international standards.
“We will license the brands to purchase this product that it gets certified at the farm level. Right now we have applications from farmers all over the world. We have very large grower groups of cacao farmers, coffee farmers, cotton, sugar. etc.” – Elizabeth Whitlow
The World Needs Regenerative Organic Certification (ROC)
ROA aims to create a label that will equate to the highest certification that will speak to all values. This label will set out to address the different concerns people come across with when shopping for food, fiber, or personal care products.
It is important to have an offering in today’s society that produces high bar products that addresses the public’s needs.
“We have to think that nothing’s going to be solved quickly on a global scale. One percent of our farmland in America is farmed organically. So that’s 99% that we need to look at converting and there has been tremendous movement. I’m sure all your listeners are aware of this whole concept that regenerative has seized a nation that sees the world, and we’re now seeing conversions to regenerative practices on a pretty large scale.” – Elizabeth Whitlow
Social and Animal Welfare: Missing from Organic Certification
ROC’s real concern lies in factory farming and industrialization of organic livestock. Recommendations for improving animal welfare were eviscerated from the NLP due to the Trump administration. There is a need to focus on livestock operations especially when it comes to the amount of access outdoors, a layer on top of the current organic system.
“I would really love to someday measure the amount of success by the acreage or hectares that are converted and also how many workers and farmers we help. That’s where we’re going to see the most improvements. We are looking at different KPIs as we go out and do these audits. And so we are collecting this data and trying to figure out what is the best way to measure the success. But for me, I’m looking at the amount of land that we convert to this method, the amount of farm animals that we will impact by creating more conditions that honor, those animals that need to express their natural behaviors and be out on pasture and so forth” – Elizabeth Whitlow
Other Important Points Discussed
Koen and Elizabeth discussed these points in this episode
- What Elizabeth would do if she were in charge of a $1 Billion investment portfolio tomorrow morning
- What Elizabeth would do if she could wave a magic wand that would change one thing in the agriculture system
- What Elizabeth believes is true about regenerative agriculture that others don’t believe to be true? Inspired by John Kempf
- What Elizabeth believes smart investors, who want to invest in regenerative agriculture and food look out for?
To know more about Elizabeth Whitlow and how you impact the world of agriculture with the gold standard of regenerative certification, download and listen to this episode.
Elizabeth Whitlow is the Executive Director of the Regenerative Organic Alliance (ROA). It is the culmination of over 20 years working for systemic change in agriculture systems. Whitlow began her career as an advocate for shade-grown, fair-trade, and organic coffee growers in Central America. Since then, she has worked across the spectrum of elevated certifications, both in farming and ranching. She is now leading the charge for regenerative organic agriculture, managing the holistic and high-bar Regenerative Organic CertifiedTM (ROCTM) standard. The ROC is the North Star of certifications, building upon the USDA Organic label through the pillars of soil health, animal welfare, and social fairness. She resides in Sonoma County, California tending to her micro-farm and an array of animals, promoting community-driven, local food systems.
- Rodale Institute
- Interview with Phil Taylor and Bradon Welch of Mad Agriculture
- Interview with Frank Wooten on virtual fencing
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The above references an opinion and is for information and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be investment advice. Seek a duly licensed professional for investment advice.