An Open Letter to Brands
To the soil-loving food, fiber, and beverage community,
Almost ten years ago, we imagined a world where food, fiber, and beverage brands produced and sourced products grown on regenerative farms and ranches. Farms and ranches that were healing landscapes, improving producers’’ livelihoods, nourishing community health, and ultimately balancing our climate. The miracle of this moment is that people are awakening to the possibilities of regeneration.
As more brands enter the regenerative space, our open call to you is to participate with integrity and to hold in fuller context what being “regenerative” can indeed mean. You possess significant power and a responsibility to lead the Earth and its inhabitants toward a more regenerative future. This work will pave the way for generations to come, and will lay the foundation upon which they can flourish from the legacy of our collective actions.
Indeed, if leading brands don’t lead with integrity and rise to support the most critical outcomes and ideas behind regeneration, then the possibilities of regeneration won’t be fulfilled, and the word regenerative will be weakened and perhaps meaningless. If that happens, we may lose the compelling opportunity that regeneration brings to our generation.
While many modern contextual-based practices have been developed through holistic planning and scientific discoveries, regenerative agriculture is rooted in indigenous stewardship, learned by trial and error, and practiced in a restorative, reciprocal manner over thousands of years.
Regenerative agriculture aims not only to reduce damage to ecosystems but to improve upon them while continuing to produce our foods and fibers. It primarily focuses on improving soil health by moving carbon from our atmosphere back into our soils, using a variety of agricultural management practices that work in alignment with natural systems. In this context, it’s agriculture that causes regeneration.
What regenerative agriculture does not have is a single, agreed-upon definition.
Brands are increasingly weaving this term into their messaging, which drives the appetite for a singular meaning. While the principles of regenerative agriculture are largely agreed upon by the leaders in this space, it’s still imperative that those engaging with regeneration maintain the flexibility and nuance inherent in an evolving intention to steward living systems. For example, adjusting practices based on the specific context of varied ecosystems is the only way to cause regeneration and therefore be “regenerative.”
A holistic approach is crucial for regeneration. We must avoid a myopic focus on soil health OR water impact, OR biodiversity. We must avoid attempts to fragment ecosystems rather than see them as wholes that humans are a part of, not separate from. Regeneration extends beyond the farm and ranch, influencing all of our living systems. And for significant change to take place, regenerative principles need to be applied more holistically.
As brands continue to engage with the movement, it’s vital to ask, where does your brand fit into this whole? Where are you leading the premise of causing regeneration versus tying together a few siloed outcomes that connect to your sustainability goals?
All parts of a brand’s supply systems impact people and our planet. Aside from a pure moral responsibility of caring for our shared ecosystems, Scope 3 emissions are becoming standard reporting requirements, and regulatory changes will make transparency a requirement going forward. It’s no longer an option – from a moral, scientific, or legal perspective – to disregard the impacts of the supply system.
Deepening farmer/rancher–brand relationships provides a significant opportunity for the people who produce our food and steward the land to not just survive, but thrive. Creating direct relationships with farmers and ranchers and building trust through longer-term contracts allows sustained movement toward regeneration–especially regarding earning certifications. Many regenerative certifications have been released over the last few years (which you can learn more about here), helping to move this concept forward.
It’s clear that brands are influential change agents in the supply system. Through the widespread adoption of regenerative agriculture, you have the power to bring prosperity to communities for generations to come, improve food and water security, and strengthen our climate resilience.
We know that perfection can be the enemy of the good, and we want to acknowledge that all healing improvements are a step towards regeneration. We champion progress in all its forms. The road to health is not always a perfect line.
It is a big responsibility, and we ask you to think beyond a short-term marketing campaign. We ask you to be intentional, to think long-term, and to use your platform for genuine impact and substantial change. The movement calls for meaningful action specific to the essence of the people and places that provide our products. We support brands on their regenerative journeys. Together, we can make a permanent shift towards a better future. Let’s make it count. Let’s make a statement we can all be proud of.