Lots of Empty Talk & Plenty of Pledges, But Little Progress on Claims Made by Giant Agri-Food Companies Seems to Have Led to ‘Reneging on Promises for Regenerative Ag’

While there’s been plenty of talk and promises among worldwide food companies jumping on the regenerative agriculture bandwagon, there’s a profound lack of action on their pledges

A report from the British investor network FAIRR Initiative indicates 64% of the 79 global food and retail giant publicly listed companies who’ve talked on the record about the benefits of regenerative ag failed to formally adopt plans to achieve those ambitions.

Soil health and carbon-related outcomes are the two most-cited sustainability outcomes cited by food companies, followed by improving water use and quality, biodiversity and reduced use of agrochemicals.

In a Sept. 21, 2023, AFN & AgFunder article, Elaine Watson notes only 8% of these companies have established financial targets to support farmers in adopting regenerative ag practices. A few notable exceptions are Nestlé, PepsiCo, JBS, Danone, General Mills, Walmart, Sodexo and Mondelēz International.

Most regenerative ag initiatives adopted to date focus on carbon removal or sequestration, soil health (soil organic matter, water-holding capacity, micro/macronutrients), biodiversity, watershed health (more efficient use of water and reducing pollution) and farmer livelihoods.

“Without adequate support for farmers, there can be no successful regenerative agriculture,” says Jo Raven, FAIRR’s director of thematic research and corporate innovation. “Transitioning from conventional practices toward regenerative practices creates risk for farmers as it will likely require significant upfront investment, such as new machinery, agronomic support and experimentation, and could impact short-term productivity for farms.”

Measurable Targets Needed

The lack of a clear universally accepted definition of regenerative ag makes company…

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Lessiter frank

Frank Lessiter

Frank Lessiter has served as editor of No-Till Farmer since the publication was launched in November of 1972. Raised on a six-generation Michigan Centennial Farm, he has spent his entire career in agricultural journalism. Lessiter is a dairy science graduate from Michigan State University.

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