In collaboration with over 150 farmer, brand and soil science stakeholders, The Carbon Underground and Green America, along with Ben & Jerry’s (Unilever), Danone North America, and MegaFood, are opening public comment on a new outcomes-based agricultural standard for food and fiber. The standard, developed with NSF International, seeks to encourage everyone who touches the soil to improve soil health and increase carbon drawdown. The public comment period for the draft standard opens March 6, 2019 and closes April 15, 2019. The standard draft and submission form for public comment are available at www.SoilCarbonInitiative.org.
“Our goal is simple. It’s to reverse climate change,” says Tom Newmark and Larry Kopald, Co-Founders of The Carbon Underground. “We now know that the massive loss of topsoil, and the degrading of much of the remaining soil, has not only emitted a large part of the carbon into our atmosphere but severely limited soil’s natural role of drawing carbon back. It’s pretty simple—help the soil and we help the climate.”
The Soil Carbon Initiative’s new outcome-based verified standard will give both food producers and manufacturers the ability to assess soil health-- including carbon levels-- to support the transition to regenerative agriculture in an effort to restore and maintain both soil and climate health. The standard requires farmers to enroll, perform baseline tests, and submit periodic performance assessments to indicate and verify progress.
“This is an important effort for the planet and for Danone North America,” said Chris Adamo, Vice President Federal and Industry Affairs at Danone North America and a member of the SCI Design Team. “As a food manufacturer, we have a responsibility to make sure our ingredients are grown in a way that keeps our planet healthy. But we cannot do this without knowing and partnering with the farms that supply us. We recognize and value all they bring to our business and ultimately to the people enjoying our products.”
The SCI standard is designed to be easy and inclusive in order to encourage participation levels that can, in fact, draw down enough carbon to begin to reverse climate change. The standard is open to everyone. Producers in any system – conventional, organic, Non-GMO, biodynamic – are eligible for SCI Verification. Based on demonstrated soil health and carbon sequestration results, the SCI standard rewards commitment to improve and ongoing improvements in these two areas.
“By shifting to regenerative agricultural practices, which, by definition, work with nature, we can leverage photosynthesis to restore the water and carbon cycles,” said Dave Rapaport, Global Social Mission Officer at Ben & Jerry’s. “Having an achievable standard for us and our supply chain is critical if we are to avoid irreversible effects of climate change.”
This work builds upon the Regenerative Agriculture Definition created in 2017 by The Carbon Underground, California State/Chico, and the Regenerative Agriculture Initiative that included over 200 companies, organizations and scientists as signatories. In a similar fashion the design team for SCI includes input and agreement from corporations, farmers, ranchers, soil scientists and certification experts.
"We all know that our soils are in crisis, which has led to struggling farmers, less nutritious food, and even climate change.” says Sara Newmark, Vice President of Social Impact at MegaFood. “ We at MegaFood firmly believe that Regenerative Agriculture is the answer, and the Soil Carbon Initiative's global standard is the key to enable rapid adoption of regenerative outcomes."
The negative impact on soil from conventional agriculture has become extremely evident in the past few years. Degrading our soil not only diminishes its ability to grow food, but it leads to severe loss of top soil itself— estimated to cost the US alone more than a trillion dollars a year. It’s also been identified as a major cause of climate change. Soil and climate experts tell us, however, that restoring soil health— and its natural ability to draw back down atmospheric carbon— might be the best chance we have at reversing climate change.
“This has to work across the supply chain, and it has to be simple and affordable enough to achieve scale.” says Alisa Gravitz, CEO of Green America. “If we do that in the $10 trillion food and fiber industries we might just help grow our way out of climate change.”
For more information, or to sign up for updates, contact Randi Fiat at
About The Carbon Underground
The Carbon Underground was created to accelerate the restoration of soil and the
transformation of agriculture to regenerative practices that will mitigate climate change,
support farmers, and improve supply chains, food quality and food security around the
world. By working with businesses, scientists, governments and food producers The
Carbon Underground creates and manages programs to reverse the threats of climate
change, stop topsoil loss, and reduce supply chain stress.
About Green America
Green America is the nation’s leading green economy organization. Founded in 1982,
Green America provides the economic strategies, organizing power, and practical tools
for consumers, businesses and investors to solve today’s social and environmental
problems. Green America’s Center for Sustainable Solutions brings together diverse
groups of stakeholders to solve the complex sustainability problems that no individual
business, organization, or leader can solve alone.