Regenerative Certifications & Verifications

Kiss the Ground met with certifiers to better understand the various regenerative certifications and verifications available to farmers and ranchers. This guide offers a break-down of the cost, timeline, and requirements for each certification.

Demeter USA is a certifier for Biodynamic farms and products in America. The Demeter standard builds off of the organic requirements under the National Organic Program, but is much more extensive, with stricter requirements around imported fertility, greater emphasis on integrated pest and weed management, and in depth specifications around water conservation and biodiversity. Social responsibility and animal welfare are also addressed in the Demeter standard. Products that carry this certification include fruits and vegetables, grains and bread, herbs, meats, milk, oils, wine, chocolate, textiles, spirits, cosmetics and body care, and compost. Farms, processors, and products can be found using their online directory and map.

Farmers, ranchers, and processors wanting their farms, ranches, and resulting agricultural products to carry the Demeter certification marks “Biodynamic®”, “Demeter®” and “Demeter Certified Biodynamic®”

The land to be certified must meet the National Organic Program (NOP)* standard as a base and be managed to the Demeter Biodynamic® Farm Standard for one year. Applications are accepted throughout the year but are typically reviewed in the Spring and inspection occurs in the Summer. The certification process usually finishes in the Fall.

Farm application is $350 (new) and $220 (renewing). Processor application is $550 (new) and $320 (renewing). Inspections occur annually and costs range from $400-$1000, depending on travel cost and complexity of the operation. A licensing fee is assessed on total gross sales of certified products (0.5% for farm sales/0.6% for processed product sales).

Outcomes and practices-based. Demeter® certification is a whole farm certification with the ideal of a self-contained ecosystem. Field-by-field certification is not allowed. In addition to organic requirements, emphasis is given to generation of on-farm fertility including livestock integration, limited imported fertility, in-depth specifications around water conservation and biodiversity, and emphasis on on-farm solutions for disease, pest, and weed control. Use of key Biodynamic field sprays and compost preparations are required for the enhancement of the vitality of the soil and resulting farm products.

The Climate Beneficial certification by Fibershed signifies that the production process of textiles and natural fibers such as wool, cotton, alpaca, flax, and hemp actively sequesters carbon from the atmosphere, contributing to climate mitigation efforts. It assures consumers that the products they buy support regenerative agricultural practices that promote soil health and biodiversity while combating climate change. This certification is available for producers in Northern and Central CA. There is an affiliate Climate Beneficial program in the Hudson Valley in New York. Through a USDA Climate Smart Commodities grant Fibershed has scaled the program in five regions, including the Southeast (GE, NC, TN, IN) and Intermountain West (SD, MT, WY).

Natural fiber producers who are part of Fibershed’s Producer Program

Producers commit to annual implementation of carbon farm practices after baseline soil samples are taken. Following annual practice verification, they are labeled Climate Beneficial Transitional. To be fully verified Climate Beneficial, producers need to complete a comprehensive Carbon Farm Plan in collaboration with a trained technical assistance provider, report annually, and perform soil tests every 3-5 years.  

$40 annual fee to be a member of the Fibershed Producer Program; no additional cost for the Climate Beneficial Fiber program (soil testing is covered by Fibershed and the Carbon Farm Plan is typically covered by funding from the RCD or other partners).

Practice-based verification, uses research-based modeling and peer-reviewed regional-specific data to quantify projected carbon and water impacts of practices. Small to midsize producers who are selling direct-to-consumer get logos and tags for their products. Larger commodity-scale fine wool producers are eligible to join a “fiber pool”. The Climate Beneficial Fiber Pool brings together fine wool from several producers and works with brands to create a market for their product. Fibershed has also helped develop the California Cotton & Climate Coalition, which similarly connects multiple cotton producers with brands that can help support the growers in transitioning their practices, and provides a market for the crop. Fibershed also offers grants ($2-$6,000/project) to producers to fund new practices, such as planting hedgerows,  applying compost, planting cover crops, converting to no-till planting, and other carbon farming practices.

The Certified Regenerative certification from A Greener World indicates that farming practices meet rigorous standards for soil health, animal welfare, and environmental sustainability. It assures consumers that the products they choose support agricultural systems that prioritize regeneration and resilience within ecosystems. Certified products include dairy and meat. 

Farms. The individual or entity seeking Certified Regenerative status must have management control of the farm. Cooperatives and networks of independent farms are also eligible.

An on-farm audit is conducted in year 1 comparing the status of the farm to baseline standards. If the standards are met and the land steward is implementing an approved regenerative plan, certification can happen in the first year. Subsequent audits are every 15 months. If risk of toxic pesticide or other agrochemical residues is determined during the audit, the farm will have to enact a plan of remediation before food products can reach the market. If the farm raises animals for meat, dairy or other agricultural production, at least one species on the farm must be Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW standards within 3 years of becoming Certified Regenerative, with a plan for all applicable species to be certified within 5 years.

$450 application and farm plan review fee. Audit fee is dependent on travel costs, starting at $800.

Whole-farm, place-based certification. Covers a holistic range of farm specific, risk-based metrics, such as soil health, biodiversity, water quality, air quality, long-term financial viability, and animal welfare.

Real Organic Project is a farmer-led certification that was created by pioneers of the organic movement in response to the lax regulatory framework of the USDA Organic standards. This program offers greater transparency for customers and highlights farms and products that prioritize soil health and animal welfare as part of organic farming practices. There are over 1,000 farms certified throughout the country.

Farmers inspired to protect the spirit and original meaning of organic.

If the application is approved, an inspector schedules a 1.5 to 2 hour farm visit during the growing season to assess whether the farm meets Real Organic Project Standards. Physical inspections happen once every 5 years, unless there is a major change in the operation’s production that needs inspection sooner. Once inspection is approved the farm can use the Real Organic Project logo on certified products. Producers need to submit a renewal application for review annually.

There are no fees to be a Real Organic Project farm. The certification program is funded by eaters, farmers, and private foundations that want to see a certified organic system that embodies integrity, transparency, and the spirit of organic farming.

Ecosystem services, soil management, greenhouse production, origin of livestock, dairy grazing, animal welfare, hired labor protections, and standards for processed products – all with the minimum criteria that farmers grow their plants in healthy, living soil and ranchers raise their animals humanely and on pasture. Piloting soil ecosystem rubric in 2022.

The REGEN1 certification signifies products and practices that actively contribute to regenerative agriculture, emphasizing soil health, carbon sequestration, and ecosystem restoration. It serves as a marker for consumers seeking goods aligned with principles of sustainability and holistic land management, fostering resilience and biodiversity. REGEN1 is an open-source digital platform for producers and purchasers and is currently in development.

Farmers. REGEN1 was co-created by farmers and ranchers to identify and support regenerative transition. It uses Meta standard, leveraging existing verifications and certifications.

REGEN1 is designed to meet producers where they are, recognizing the many “roads to regenerative” from transitioning producers to regenerative farmers and ranchers, often certified organic, who’ve practiced regenerative agriculture for years or even generations. Transitioning producers must advance to the level of “continual improvement,” implementing several regenerative practices and beginning to monitor outcomes, after two years. After 5 to 10 years, producers must advance to a regenerative systems approach.

No initial cost; but there are costs associated with certifications and increasing levels of market verifications.

REGEN1 is developing an inclusive standard, one designed to transition and reward farmers and ranchers at every scale and from any background. Producers self report their practices, trainings, farm plans, certifications, etc in an app, and outcomes are verified by a crop advisor, agronomist, soil scientist or other expert. Scores are applied to each practice/outcome, and a tier is assigned. The app will connect producers with purchasers so that they can theoretically optimize their profits by advertising their verified practices and outcomes.

A new certification that builds on the USDA Certified Organic standard, with stricter requirements for soil health, animal welfare, and social fairness. There are hundreds of certified products, including food, fiber and personal care ingredients, which can be found on their brand and product directory. 

Farmers, buyers, or processors. Farms must already be Certified Organic, or are pursuing both simultaneously (ROC® works in collaboration with organic certifiers).

*If farms have a certification for animal welfare and/or social worker justice, these will be considered and evaluated for any gaps by ROC® auditors. ROC® has 100 trained auditors in North America and across the globe.

Soil testing occurs every 3 years. Must meet a list of audit criteria, such as practicing cover cropping, to achieve certification (see the Regenerative Organic System Plan for a full list). Criteria vary for soil health, animal welfare, social fairness, buyers, and processors.

Farmers pay an annual fee equal to .1% of gross crop production, and brands and other entities making consumer-facing ROC® claims must complete a license agreement and pay licensing fees based on annual revenue.

Both outcomes and practices-based. ROC consists of three pillars: Soil Health & Land Management, Animal Welfare, and Farmer & Worker Fairness. ROC has three levels: Bronze, Silver, and Gold.

The Regenified certification signifies products and practices that contribute to regenerative agriculture, emphasizing soil health, biodiversity, and ecological resilience. It serves as a marker for consumers seeking goods aligned with principles of sustainability and holistic land management. Regenified certifies farms as well as products, including wheat, wine and bourbon.

Farmers, ranchers, and buyers.

The process begins with baseline evaluation that includes soil testing (undertaken every three years) and evaluation of ongoing practices. The baselining process may lead to instant certification, depending on assessment results. Applicants are assessed based on a set of standards and associated criteria. Note that assessed criteria is dependent on the nature of the applicant’s operation.

Varies for farmers, ranchers, and buyers. Affordable project-based fees for individual farmer and rancher operations based on the size of their operation. There are project-based fees for multiple farm and ranch operations for buyers

Systems approach, driven by Regenified 6-3-4 Verification Standard. Regenified’s 6-3-4™️ Verification Standard is based on the six principles of soil health, three rules of adaptive stewardship, and the four ecosystem processes.  It helps farmers and ranchers understand where their practices and lands are on the regenerative path. This comprehensive verification standard is both practice-based and outcome-based. 

Land to Market is a verification standard that certifies meat, dairy, wool and leather products. Overseen by the Savory Institute, their Ecological Outcome Verification (EOV) protocol monitors regenerative grazing systems.

Grasslands and rangelands managers looking to measure outcomes on their land and/or enter the Land to Market program.

Baseline setup at year 0. Short-term monitoring is done annually, while long-term monitoring is conducted every 5 years. Two data points are needed for verification.

Varies based on local rates of EOV Monitors/Verifiers* and specific monitoring being conducted.

*An EOV Verifier is required to set up baseline transects and to measure long-term indicators in years five and ten. An EOV Monitor is often less expensive since annual monitoring of short-term indicators is a quicker process and based on initial transect data.

Outcomes-based. Measures leading (short-term) above-ground indicators and lagging (long-term) below-ground indicators that correlate with the four ecosystem processes taught in Holistic Management: nutrient and water cycling, energy flow, and community dynamics. Results are scored against a known reference area in the eco-region, and must trend positive for verification. EOV verification applies to the land itself, while the Land to Market Verified label applies to products.

The Soil & Climate Initiative is a “farm-to-shelf” verification program for farmers and brands that ensures that products and practices adhere to standards that promote soil health, biodiversity, water quality, climate resiliency, support rural economies and scale regenerative agriculture. SCI helps brands and suppliers develop a roadmap for regenerative sourcing and connects them to verified ingredients. This program is still in development and there are no current products on the market.

Farmers in any production system can work towards verification, and can sign up with other programs simultaneously (you can be both SCI and Regenerative Organic Certified™, for example). Food companies and suppliers Buyers, processors and brands can work towards claims on-pack, with or without full farm traceability.

After establishing a baseline, soil health testing occurs every 3 years. Farms also create a 3-year Farm Plan to identify areas for continuous improvement over baseline. Equivalency pathways are available as a way to recognize those with existing regenerative management.

  • For Farm participants, costs are project dependent based on soil testing, farm planning, and verification needs. For Buyer/Processor/Brand participants, a Program Participation Fee is based on revenue and paid annually.

Outcomes-based, and it never dictates practices since every farm is different. Farmers must make commitments against each of the following SCI Program Pillars: Minimizing Soil Disturbance, Living Roots in the Ground Year Round, Maximizing Diversity Above and Below Ground, Appropriate Integration of Livestock, Reducing Synthetic Inputs, and Learning. SCI verifies that the participant farms are actively engaged in their transition plans, are performing and reporting on required testing, are increasing their number of acres transitioned, and are participating in the SCI communities of practice. This verification is Independently verified by SCS Global.

The Regeneratively Grown™ and Regenerative Verified™ certifications by Soil Regen denote products and practices that actively contribute to the regeneration of ecosystems, emphasizing soil health, carbon sequestration, and biodiversity enhancement. These certifications offer consumers assurance that the products they purchase are produced using methods that prioritize environmental stewardship and long-term sustainability. These certifications can be found on any food product, from meat to eggs.

Farmers, ranchers, and food companies.

Recertification is conducted annually.

  • Intake Fee: $2/acre (minimum intake fee $250)
  • Recertification Field Intake: $0.75/acre
  • Platform Integration: $30 annually per producer per project ($25 annually for additional land projects for each producer)
  • Field Delineation: $0.50/acre
  • Regenerative Certified Laboratory Analyses: $125 per each 100 acres, or per field if less than 100 acres.
  • Verification Process: $1.25/acre minimum

*Data procurement costs vary with the verification protocols based on management, location, size of operation and context. Soil sampling must be conducted by a third-party agronomist (cost varies depending upon acreage and location)

Practice and outcomes-based. Regenerative Verified™️ and Regeneratively Grown™️ are useful tools to determine how management practices and product application affect the health of the soil. Soil samples are analyzed using the Haney test and the results from the samples are then run through a Regenerative Certified™️ calculations to determine that soils are being improved or regenerated as compared to the baseline condition. Producers who pass the Regenerative Certified™️ process can show evidence of including one of the Regenerative principles to meet Regenerative Verification™️.

To read more about the potential role of certifications in the marketplace, here is a great article from Regenerative Food Systems Investment (RFSI).

Contact us if you are a certifier or verifier and want to be included in this list.

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