May 22, 2024
May 22, 2024
4
Min Read

The Regenerative Organic Certified® Guide: Staying Audit-Ready

Regenerative Organic Certified
Blog

Regenerative Organic Certified® Guide

  • Traditional farming methods, aka “factory farming,” have compromised a third of global topsoil, threatening food security.
  • Regenerative Organic Certified® is changing the game by keeping brands accountable for their impact on the communities and ecosystems within which they operate.
  • With traceability software, like BanQu, you can stay audit-ready by maintaining the complete chain of custody of your final products to prove they originate from certified sources. 

Life hinges on soil, the fundamental building block of our ecosystem. Without healthy soil, the world as we know it would crumble. Unfortunately, traditional farming practices, often characterized by intensive inputs and outputs, have severely undermined soil health. Alarmingly, a third of the world’s topsoil has already deteriorated. If we continue business as usual, experts predict that we could exhaust global topsoils within 60 years. And no more topsoil means saying goodbye to 95% of the world’s food supply. 

But, it's not all doom and gloom. The good news is agriculture, when done right, can be a part of the solution. Enter regenerative agriculture—a holistic approach to land management that focuses on environmental stewardship for healthier soil, animals, and people. In this guide, you will discover what being Regenerative Organic Certified® entails, understand its importance for your brand (and the world), and learn how to comply with its standards. Let’s get started.

Regenerative Organic Certified: What It Is & Why It Matters

Regenerative Organic Certified® Pillars
Figure 1 Credit/Source: Regenerative Organic Alliance
“Regenerative organic agriculture is the number one thing humans can do to combat global warming.” - Yvon Chouinard, Founder of Patagonia

Industrial agriculture contributes up to 30% of total carbon emissions. Regenerative agriculture counters this by improving soil organic matter and converting farms into carbon sinks, making agriculture part of the solution rather than the problem. However, the rise of 'regenerative' claims by numerous brands has sparked confusion and allegations of greenwashing. The Regenerative Organic Certified® standard addresses this by setting stringent criteria for brands in the food, fiber, and personal care sectors, ensuring accountability for their environmental and social impact.

Regenerative Organic Certified® extends beyond traditional organic farming by focusing not only on soil preservation through the elimination of synthetic inputs, such as chemical pesticides, but also on enhancing community and ecosystem well-being. This certification is structured around three core pillars:

  • Soil health & land management: Promoting practices like cover cropping, crop rotation, low- to no-till farming, and composting, all aimed at enriching soil vitality.
  • Animal Welfare: Upholding the “five freedoms” of animal welfare (see Figure 1) and ensuring that livestock are humanely treated, including conditions that support grass-fed and pasture-raised practices.
  • Farmer & Worker Fairness: Ensuring equitable farming practices by safeguarding human rights, including farmers and ranchers receiving a living wage and safe working conditions.

How to Get Regenerative Organic Certified

Regenerative Organic Certified® sets standards for diverse farming and ranching operations of all sizes, aiming to broaden the adoption of sustainable practices. Gaining Regenerative Organic Certified® status starts with a foundational requirement: you must first secure USDA organic certification or an international equivalent recognized by the National Organic Program. This acts as a baseline, meaning all practices must first align with the established organic standards (find the basics here) before adding the regenerative layer.The Regenerative Organic Certification® offers three levels—Bronze, Silver, and Gold—each with specific requirements:

  • Bronze Level: At the start, at least 10% of the land or revenue from food or fiber production must be certified. This must increase to at least 50% by the fifth year.
  • Silver Level: Initially, at least 50% of the land or revenue from Regenerative Organic Certified® crops must be certified, increasing to at least 75% by the fifth year.
  • Gold Level: All land from food or fiber production must be 100% certified, representing 100% of derived revenue. Products must be verified by an on-site audit to use Gold-level claims.

General Information for All Levels*

  • Products can only be labeled as regenerative organic if they are grown on already certified organic land.
  • All labeling must comply with USDA organic regulations.
  • Compliance with local, state, and national laws regarding animal welfare, labor rights, and land management is mandatory.
  • When using the Regenerative Organic Certified® label, supply chain actors need to show the entire chain of custody of the product from the producer to its final form.
  • Operations must maintain an up-to-date Regenerative Organic System Plan.
  • Certification costs vary by stakeholder.
  • A combination of approved certifications may qualify an operation for this certification; however, any gaps require a third-party audit.
  • Annual recertification audits are necessary for maintaining the certification.

*For specific required practices at each level, please see the Framework for Regenerative Organic Certified.

The Business Benefits of Regenerative Organic Certified

“We have the uncertainty of weather, markets, and supply chains. Yet, we have the tools in our very hands to make change, and we need to bring back predictability and resiliency into the farm community for a brighter future.” - Jeff Moyer, Chairman of the Regenerative Organic Alliance Board

Enhanced Brand Image

Studies indicate that in 2023, 30% of consumers ceased buying from brands due to ethical or sustainability concerns. Adopting the Regenerative Organic Certified® label differentiates your products in a value-driven market. Transparent production practices that meet rigorous standards boost consumer trust, enhance loyalty, and promote repeat purchases.

Supply Resiliency & Security

Regenerative farming practices yield higher long-term outputs, ensuring a stable and secure supply to future-proof your business. Additionally, soil enriched with organic matter better withstands extreme weather conditions such as droughts and floods, enhancing the resilience of your supply chain against climate change impacts.

Regulatory Compliance

As global regulations on sustainability and organic products tighten, having Regenerative Organic Certified® status ensures that your business remains compliant and ahead of regulatory changes, minimizing risk. For instance, certification requires proof that your agricultural practices have not cleared primary, untouched forests since January 1, 2015, aligning with the EU’s deforestation-free regulation (EUDR).

Best Practices for an Audit-Ready Regenerative Organic Certified Supply Chain

Know the Criteria for Your Chosen Certification Level

Assess current farming practices within your supply chain and identify necessary changes to achieve the targeted Regenerative Organic Certified® level—Bronze, Silver, or Gold.

How BanQu Helps: BanQu captures versatile supply and sustainability metrics at each level of your supply chain, from farmer wages to animal treatment to soil-level data. This tool is configurable to your supply chain needs, so you can capture the necessary data parameters to get a handle on sustainable sourcing practices and feel confident in an audit. Plus, you can multi-solve and report on sustainable, operational, and financial measures to grow your triple bottom line of profit, people, and planet. 

Farm-Level Data & Reporting

To maintain Regenerative Organic Certified® on your products, you will need to complete annual audits. Real-time farm-level data and reporting will help you monitor regenerative practices, swiftly respond to issues, and keep your supply chain up to standards.

How BanQu Helps: BanQu enables you to link farm-level data directly to a farmer's profile. This allows you to capture the geographical coordinates of the farmland, monitor regenerative practices throughout the crop lifecycle, forecast yields, and track the quantity and quality of harvested crops. By digitalizing upstream operations, you can replace manual, excel-heavy work and access real-time reports at the click of a button. Additionally, BanQu's alert and flagging features help you swiftly identify risk areas, ensuring your supply chain maintains its standards.

Traceability & Chain of Custody Tracking

During an audit, supply chain actors must provide sufficient documentation to prove the ingredients of a Regenerative Organic Certified® product originated from a certified source. Additionally, the ROA will request information on inventory levels throughout your supply chain for volume reconciliation. 

How BanQu Helps: BanQu seamlessly tracks every exchange of custody within your value chain—from the farmer to the cooperative, through processing and manufacturing, right up to the final product. With BanQu, you can easily monitor both certified and non-certified materials to ensure strict product segregation, guaranteeing compliance in your final batch. This entire process is linked directly to the final Bill of Lading or sales invoice, simplifying the audit process. Plus, you can easily access inventory levels at each stage for accurate volume reconciliation. The platform fully integrates with your existing systems, eliminating redundant data entry and maintaining data accuracy and consistency. 

BanQu: Data To Back Your Regenerative Organic Certification 

Achieving Regenerative Organic Certified® status enriches your brand's triple bottom line: profit, people, and planet. BanQu provides dependable data that acts like fertile soil, nurturing your brand’s growth while simplifying and digitalizing the certification process. With BanQu’s innovative platform, you can rest easy with annual audits. From source to shelf, monitor social and environmental metrics in real-time, and maintain a complete chain of custody to prevent the mixing of certified and non-certified materials. Are you ready to join the solution to the climate crisis and become Regenerative Organic Certified®? Schedule a call with BanQu today to start your journey on fertile ground.

Download The Regenerative Organic Certified® Guide: Staying Audit-Ready

Traditional farming methods have compromised a third of global topsoil, threatening food security. Regenerative Organic Certified® is changing the game by keeping brands accountable for their impact on people and planet. Learn how to prove adherence to its standards and stay audit-ready.

Download the Guide

Resources
The Regenerative Organic Certified® Guide: Staying Audit-Ready

Regenerative Organic Certified® Guide

  • Traditional farming methods, aka “factory farming,” have compromised a third of global topsoil, threatening food security.
  • Regenerative Organic Certified® is changing the game by keeping brands accountable for their impact on the communities and ecosystems within which they operate.
  • With traceability software, like BanQu, you can stay audit-ready by maintaining the complete chain of custody of your final products to prove they originate from certified sources. 

Life hinges on soil, the fundamental building block of our ecosystem. Without healthy soil, the world as we know it would crumble. Unfortunately, traditional farming practices, often characterized by intensive inputs and outputs, have severely undermined soil health. Alarmingly, a third of the world’s topsoil has already deteriorated. If we continue business as usual, experts predict that we could exhaust global topsoils within 60 years. And no more topsoil means saying goodbye to 95% of the world’s food supply. 

But, it's not all doom and gloom. The good news is agriculture, when done right, can be a part of the solution. Enter regenerative agriculture—a holistic approach to land management that focuses on environmental stewardship for healthier soil, animals, and people. In this guide, you will discover what being Regenerative Organic Certified® entails, understand its importance for your brand (and the world), and learn how to comply with its standards. Let’s get started.

Regenerative Organic Certified: What It Is & Why It Matters

Regenerative Organic Certified® Pillars
Figure 1 Credit/Source: Regenerative Organic Alliance
“Regenerative organic agriculture is the number one thing humans can do to combat global warming.” - Yvon Chouinard, Founder of Patagonia

Industrial agriculture contributes up to 30% of total carbon emissions. Regenerative agriculture counters this by improving soil organic matter and converting farms into carbon sinks, making agriculture part of the solution rather than the problem. However, the rise of 'regenerative' claims by numerous brands has sparked confusion and allegations of greenwashing. The Regenerative Organic Certified® standard addresses this by setting stringent criteria for brands in the food, fiber, and personal care sectors, ensuring accountability for their environmental and social impact.

Regenerative Organic Certified® extends beyond traditional organic farming by focusing not only on soil preservation through the elimination of synthetic inputs, such as chemical pesticides, but also on enhancing community and ecosystem well-being. This certification is structured around three core pillars:

  • Soil health & land management: Promoting practices like cover cropping, crop rotation, low- to no-till farming, and composting, all aimed at enriching soil vitality.
  • Animal Welfare: Upholding the “five freedoms” of animal welfare (see Figure 1) and ensuring that livestock are humanely treated, including conditions that support grass-fed and pasture-raised practices.
  • Farmer & Worker Fairness: Ensuring equitable farming practices by safeguarding human rights, including farmers and ranchers receiving a living wage and safe working conditions.

How to Get Regenerative Organic Certified

Regenerative Organic Certified® sets standards for diverse farming and ranching operations of all sizes, aiming to broaden the adoption of sustainable practices. Gaining Regenerative Organic Certified® status starts with a foundational requirement: you must first secure USDA organic certification or an international equivalent recognized by the National Organic Program. This acts as a baseline, meaning all practices must first align with the established organic standards (find the basics here) before adding the regenerative layer.The Regenerative Organic Certification® offers three levels—Bronze, Silver, and Gold—each with specific requirements:

  • Bronze Level: At the start, at least 10% of the land or revenue from food or fiber production must be certified. This must increase to at least 50% by the fifth year.
  • Silver Level: Initially, at least 50% of the land or revenue from Regenerative Organic Certified® crops must be certified, increasing to at least 75% by the fifth year.
  • Gold Level: All land from food or fiber production must be 100% certified, representing 100% of derived revenue. Products must be verified by an on-site audit to use Gold-level claims.

General Information for All Levels*

  • Products can only be labeled as regenerative organic if they are grown on already certified organic land.
  • All labeling must comply with USDA organic regulations.
  • Compliance with local, state, and national laws regarding animal welfare, labor rights, and land management is mandatory.
  • When using the Regenerative Organic Certified® label, supply chain actors need to show the entire chain of custody of the product from the producer to its final form.
  • Operations must maintain an up-to-date Regenerative Organic System Plan.
  • Certification costs vary by stakeholder.
  • A combination of approved certifications may qualify an operation for this certification; however, any gaps require a third-party audit.
  • Annual recertification audits are necessary for maintaining the certification.

*For specific required practices at each level, please see the Framework for Regenerative Organic Certified.

The Business Benefits of Regenerative Organic Certified

“We have the uncertainty of weather, markets, and supply chains. Yet, we have the tools in our very hands to make change, and we need to bring back predictability and resiliency into the farm community for a brighter future.” - Jeff Moyer, Chairman of the Regenerative Organic Alliance Board

Enhanced Brand Image

Studies indicate that in 2023, 30% of consumers ceased buying from brands due to ethical or sustainability concerns. Adopting the Regenerative Organic Certified® label differentiates your products in a value-driven market. Transparent production practices that meet rigorous standards boost consumer trust, enhance loyalty, and promote repeat purchases.

Supply Resiliency & Security

Regenerative farming practices yield higher long-term outputs, ensuring a stable and secure supply to future-proof your business. Additionally, soil enriched with organic matter better withstands extreme weather conditions such as droughts and floods, enhancing the resilience of your supply chain against climate change impacts.

Regulatory Compliance

As global regulations on sustainability and organic products tighten, having Regenerative Organic Certified® status ensures that your business remains compliant and ahead of regulatory changes, minimizing risk. For instance, certification requires proof that your agricultural practices have not cleared primary, untouched forests since January 1, 2015, aligning with the EU’s deforestation-free regulation (EUDR).

Best Practices for an Audit-Ready Regenerative Organic Certified Supply Chain

Know the Criteria for Your Chosen Certification Level

Assess current farming practices within your supply chain and identify necessary changes to achieve the targeted Regenerative Organic Certified® level—Bronze, Silver, or Gold.

How BanQu Helps: BanQu captures versatile supply and sustainability metrics at each level of your supply chain, from farmer wages to animal treatment to soil-level data. This tool is configurable to your supply chain needs, so you can capture the necessary data parameters to get a handle on sustainable sourcing practices and feel confident in an audit. Plus, you can multi-solve and report on sustainable, operational, and financial measures to grow your triple bottom line of profit, people, and planet. 

Farm-Level Data & Reporting

To maintain Regenerative Organic Certified® on your products, you will need to complete annual audits. Real-time farm-level data and reporting will help you monitor regenerative practices, swiftly respond to issues, and keep your supply chain up to standards.

How BanQu Helps: BanQu enables you to link farm-level data directly to a farmer's profile. This allows you to capture the geographical coordinates of the farmland, monitor regenerative practices throughout the crop lifecycle, forecast yields, and track the quantity and quality of harvested crops. By digitalizing upstream operations, you can replace manual, excel-heavy work and access real-time reports at the click of a button. Additionally, BanQu's alert and flagging features help you swiftly identify risk areas, ensuring your supply chain maintains its standards.

Traceability & Chain of Custody Tracking

During an audit, supply chain actors must provide sufficient documentation to prove the ingredients of a Regenerative Organic Certified® product originated from a certified source. Additionally, the ROA will request information on inventory levels throughout your supply chain for volume reconciliation. 

How BanQu Helps: BanQu seamlessly tracks every exchange of custody within your value chain—from the farmer to the cooperative, through processing and manufacturing, right up to the final product. With BanQu, you can easily monitor both certified and non-certified materials to ensure strict product segregation, guaranteeing compliance in your final batch. This entire process is linked directly to the final Bill of Lading or sales invoice, simplifying the audit process. Plus, you can easily access inventory levels at each stage for accurate volume reconciliation. The platform fully integrates with your existing systems, eliminating redundant data entry and maintaining data accuracy and consistency. 

BanQu: Data To Back Your Regenerative Organic Certification 

Achieving Regenerative Organic Certified® status enriches your brand's triple bottom line: profit, people, and planet. BanQu provides dependable data that acts like fertile soil, nurturing your brand’s growth while simplifying and digitalizing the certification process. With BanQu’s innovative platform, you can rest easy with annual audits. From source to shelf, monitor social and environmental metrics in real-time, and maintain a complete chain of custody to prevent the mixing of certified and non-certified materials. Are you ready to join the solution to the climate crisis and become Regenerative Organic Certified®? Schedule a call with BanQu today to start your journey on fertile ground.

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Download The Regenerative Organic Certified® Guide: Staying Audit-Ready

Traditional farming methods have compromised a third of global topsoil, threatening food security. Regenerative Organic Certified® is changing the game by keeping brands accountable for their impact on people and planet. Learn how to prove adherence to its standards and stay audit-ready.

Download the Guide

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