Regenerative Agriculture position statement
Regenerative agriculture is an exciting grassroots movement, which is energising a whole new generation of farmers who are keen to be part of the solution to the nature and climate crises. It is first and foremost a mindset shift, and one that is motivating many organic pioneers to challenge themselves even further. As Harriet Bell, regenerative farming lead at organic veg box scheme Riverford puts it, “the best regenerative farmers are organic, and the best organic farmers are regenerative.”
Returning to its early roots, regenerative agriculture is grounded in the organic movement. In fact, both organic and regenerative agriculture share a common goal of creating a food system that benefits the environment and society. Organic agriculture, with its established principles and practices, aligns closely with the best aspects of regenerative agriculture. The term "regenerative" was initially coined by an organic pioneer in the United States, and many academic studies on regenerative farming are conducted on certified organic farms. This shared foundation presents an opportunity for regenerative practices to reinforce and amplify the principles of organic agriculture.
A feature of the regenerative movement in the UK is the clear appetite of like-minded farmers to be part of a network where they can learn from one another, share experiences and gain practical insights. Events like Groundswell have become key opportunities for such exchange, as well as a chance to meet others on a similar journey. There’s huge value in collaboration and knowledge sharing – our Innovative Farmers programme has been at the forefront of doing this for the past 10 years and has launched over 150 field labs in that time. The global organic movement has a very active exchange network, including the Inter-Continental Network of Organic Farmers Organisations (INOFO), and peer-to-peer learning is considered essential for continuous improvement in organic farming techniques.
The use of metrics and measurements to understand the impact of different farming practices, which is a common feature for those engaged in regenerative agriculture, can be an important and useful tool for achieving better outcomes – both environmentally and in terms of yields. The new service launched recently, Soil Association Exchange is a holistic methodology to rigorously measure the impact of a farm operation and help farmers improve. All farms – conventional, regenerative and organic – stand to potentially benefit from data insights, if they’re used in the right way.
However, whilst there’s a lot to like about the surge in interest for regenerative agriculture amongst farmers, it’s not without its risks beyond the farm gate. The term "regenerative”, because it is not codified, can be at risk of greenwashing further up the supply chain if not used carefully. Some may falsely claim adherence to regenerative principles without genuinely implementing sustainable practices. Others may cherry pick practices and fail to take the whole system approach which is needed for truly transformational change (something that the whole farm approach of Soil Association Exchange looks to tackle).
This poses a challenge in ensuring the credibility and integrity of regenerative as a term if it starts to be used too freely in marketing claims. Polls show that regenerative is not well understood by the public, so its use risks further confusion and disengagement if it displaces existing labels like LEAF and organic.
Those who want to support the best of regenerative agriculture can make a start by choosing or specifying organic. There’s already a sound body of scientific evidence that demonstrates organic farming supports climate, nature and health. This should give policy-makers, businesses and consumers alike the confidence to know that organic is a powerful tool for addressing the urgent crises of our times and should be valued and supported in government policies and ultimately in our shopping baskets.
Organic certification offers a reliable assurance against greenwashing because the term is protected by law and organic certification is only granted to farms that are part of a whole-system approach, adhering to specific practices promoting soil health, biodiversity, and ecological balance. The stringent certification process involves independent third-party verification, ensuring that products labelled as organic truly meet the established standards. As a minimum, organic farmers work with the systems and cycles of nature and without the use of artificial nitrogen or damaging bee-harming chemicals like neonicotinoids and glyphosate.
One difference worth acknowledging between organic farming and some regenerative farmers centres on the use of the herbicide glyphosate. Organic standards prohibit the use of glyphosate, but some regenerative farmers consider its use to kill off weeds and cover crops preferable to disturbing the soil with a plough. This is an example of how the two movements are already challenging each other to be the best they can be. Many organic farmers now use low- or no-till methods, and many regenerative farmers also minimise their use of agrichemicals.
In summary - we welcome the enthusiasm and innovation that the regenerative movement brings and believe that genuine regenerative advocates and the organic movement are often one and the same. Where they’re not, there’s an opportunity to work together and inspire one another. We’re cautious about the risks of greenwashing when it comes to the term regenerative and recognise organic certification as the most comprehensive, verifiable, legally protected benchmark for regenerative agriculture and believe it should be recognised and supported as such.
For more information on the relationship between organic are regenerative agriculture visit:
For the European organic movement’s position on regenerative agriculture, which we endorse, visit:
For the UK organic certification bodies’ joint position on regenerative agriculture, please visit: