The Non-GMO Project is proud to be a part of the Regenerate America campaign, working with Kiss the Ground and a diverse coalition of farmers, businesses, nonprofits and concerned citizens working to make regenerative agriculture the cornerstone of the 2023 Farm Bill. Together, we can lay the foundations of a healthy and sustainable food system for future generations.
Currently, America's agriculture system relies on industrial-style production that prioritizes efficiency at the expense of healthy and resilient landscapes. Racialized and minority communities have borne disproportionate burdens caused by our dysfunctional food system. Supporting equitable access to the resources young and underserved farmers need to get a foothold is not only a boon to the agricultural landscape. It is also an opportunity to begin the hard work of healing injustice, violence and racism.
Squeezing more commodities from each acre is an old way of thinking. The inescapable truth is that farmers grow much more than this crop or that crop. Farmland, ranchland, silvopasture and agroforestry acreage can support a diverse cast of wildlife, insect life and microorganisms that operate in symbiosis to recycle nutrients, keep pests under control and ultimately help to grow next year's bounty. A system that starves all those other creatures will eventually fail to produce for us.
Under non-regenerative practices, our topsoil — the nutrient-dense uppermost layer of soil — is being depleted 10 times faster than it can be replenished. World Food Prize Laureate Rattan Lal likens soil to a bank account — you cannot withdraw more than you put in. "Anything that we take out of the soil, we must replace. If [we] do not replace it, soil will not produce." If we continue to degrade our soils without regeneration, we usher in a future of food insecurity and economic uncertainty.
But it doesn't have to be that way.
What does a regenerative future look like?
By changing how we grow our food, agriculture can become a crucial driver for social justice, income equality, environmental restoration, and resilience. Committing ourselves to rebuilding healthy soils doesn't just fill up our metaphorical bank account — it also benefits actual bank accounts.
The Farm Bill is one of the most potent tools shaping American agriculture. It touches every single American by determining what crops are grown and how. Provisions for conservation, insurance and rural investment have far-reaching economic and environmental consequences. A new Farm Bill is passed every 5-7 years — meaning this could be the last iteration this decade. These years mark our final chance to reshape the food system before a critical window to act on climate change closes. The path we choose now could very well determine the health and happiness of future generations.
Our regenerative future is bright, with cascading benefits across communities:
- Regenerated soils An estimated 95% of our food comes from soil. Rich soil teeming with nutrients, minerals and microorganisms can grow healthier and hardier crops while protecting against climate extremes such as drought and heat.
- Regenerated economics Investing in rural livelihoods, supporting equitable access to the resources young and underserved farmers need, and ensuring that food insecure families have enough to eat creates a ripple of positive economic impacts.
- Regenerated communities As rural communities across America struggle to survive, residents move to urban centers for opportunities. Family-owned farmland is sold to conglomerates and corporations that move even further from regenerative ideals. Many marginalized and disenfranchised communities hold knowledge that is essential to sustainable stewardship of dynamic food systems.
- Regenerated health A regenerative food system goes far beyond a handful of commodity crops, let alone genetically modified versions of those crops! A regenerative system celebrates the diversity of our genetic inheritance, integrating a variety of crops and livestock into resilient farming systems while nourishing Americans.
If we act with urgency and boldness, we can change the lives of millions of Americans while building the framework for a healthier, more equitable world. Regenerating our soil means rebuilding a future for ourselves, our children, and countless other plants, animals and other life forms.
We stand at the crossroads. We can choose to build resilience through regenerative practices — but only if we act together!
Learn more about the Regenerate America campaign at RegenerateAmerica.com.