Regenerative Organic Certification (ROC) guarantees that a food, textile, or personal care product or ingredient was obtained by promoting ecosystem restoration, soil health, animal welfare, and respect for communities and workers, through farming and/or processing techniques and procedures that mitigate the impact of climate change. It is the highest standard of organic agriculture in the world.
Industrial agriculture has been shown to contribute about 25% of global greenhouse gas emissions. With farmland free of natural vegetation, carbon and other greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere, soil is exposed to erosion, and soil functioning is impaired, exacerbated by extreme weather events caused by global warming.
This results in low production yields and increased climate extremes. This means that the greater the disturbance and degradation of the soil represents a higher imbalance of our ecosystem and the lower the availability of food and resources that we need every day.
Regenerative organic agriculture has a holistic approach that treats farms as an ecosystem and, through it, mimics nature to store carbon over time, increase the diversity of microorganisms, increase organic matter in the soil, and increase production yields.
ROC certification, created in 2017 by the ROA (Regenerative Organic Alliance), seeks to combat climate change, reintegrate the whole (including us) into the natural system or cycle we have in common, guarantee economic stability, and seek equity with farmers, and workers.
This standard certifies farms, cooperatives, or groups of growers and companies for all or part of their operations, including crops, animal slaughter, transportation, and some processing facilities.
It is based on U.S. organic certification, so a crop wishing to be certified regenerative organic should include, depending on the needs of the crop:
– Cover and barrier crops
– Crop rotation
– Minimal-tillage or Zero-tillage farming
– Addition of composts
– No use of chemical pesticides or fertilizers.
To comply with animal welfare, this certification considers:
– Rotational grazing
– Freedom to express natural behavior
– Reducing stress in farm animals
– Limited transport
Regarding social welfare, this standard requires aspects such as:
– Fair and decent wages
– Positive Work Environment
– Freedom of association and democratic organizations
– No forced labor and personal skills development
This certification has three levels, defined by the level of organic regenerative practices implemented. The general criteria are:
– Bronze: 10% of the land of an operation’s total must be certified and reach 50% by the fifth year.
– Silver: 50% of the total land of an operation must be certified and reach 75% in five years.
– Gold (the highest level achievable): 100% of an operation’s total land area must be certified.
Ranking levels encourage growers to generate continuous improvements in farmland management. In addition, to be labeled under ROC certification, products must be USDA/NOP certified organic or equivalent, in addition to meeting local, state, and national regulations. Other certifications can be used to demonstrate compliance with the three pillars of the standard (soil management, animal welfare, and labor law), such as Demeter Biodynamic, Animal Welfare, and Fair for Life, among others.
There are more than 250 thousand certified hectares in the world with more than 300 crops, in countries such as Mexico, the United States, Argentina, Congo, Ghana, India, and Indonesia, among others. These products can be found in the market among 76 authorized brands. To obtain certification it is necessary to contact an approved certifying agent such as Ecocert. Any person, group, or company that chooses to become certified or purchase products with the ROC label will be part of the creation of a world beyond sustainability, of the regeneration of the planet.
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