A group of the world’s largest and most influential agribusiness companies and organisations has launched an action plan to scale regenerative farming globally to tackle the impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss.

  • The Agribusiness Task Force, part of the Sustainable Markets Initiative (SMI), today released its action plan focused on how to scale regenerative farming – an approach which aims to cut carbon emissions whilst seeking to promote and improve soil health and biodiversity.

  • The report — produced by the 12-strong cross-industry Task Force – highlights an urgent need for consistent metrics, better government policy incentives and a transformation of sourcing to spread the cost of transition to more sustainable practices.

  • It comes after new analysis by sustainability analysts Systemiq revealed regenerative farming is growing but the rate must triple to deliver against the planet’s need to limit climate change to 1.5 degrees.

  • Task Force Chair Grant Reid, outgoing Mars CEO, said the rate of progress was ‘far too slow’ and he hoped the report would inspire the sector to help make the economics of regenerative farming work for farmers.

The SMI Agribusiness Task Force’s report “Scaling Regenerative Farming: an action plan” warns that adoption rates are currently lagging far behind the rate needed to effectively tackle climate change. Fresh analysis by Systemiq has revealed that regenerative farming – whilst expanding its footprint over recent years – must triple its rate of growth to deliver against the world’s need to limit climate change to 1.5 degrees. It needs to make up at least 40% of global cropland by 2030, up from around 15% today.

The Task Force calls for common metrics and market-based financial incentives for environmental outcomes, targeted government policy and an overhaul of food sourcing – all to make regenerative agriculture a ‘no brainer’ business decision for farmers.

The Task Force is comprised of executives from many of the world’s largest and most influential agribusiness companies and organisations, united by a common ambition to enable regenerative farming to become mainstream: Bayer, HowGood, Indigo Agriculture, Mars, McCain Foods, McDonald’s, Mondelez, Olam, PepsiCo, Sustainable Food Trust, Waitrose & Partners and Yara International.

Task Force Chair & outgoing Mars CEO, Grant Reid said: “These are unprecedented times with supply chains under enormous pressure and the impacts of climate change all too real. Regenerative farming is a critical part of the solution, and our report shows all too clearly that – despite pockets of great work – adoption rates are far too slow as the short-term economic case for change is not compelling enough for farmers. As an industry, we need to address these areas with urgency if we are to hit our net zero commitments and protect against future supply-chain disruption.”

Regenerative farming is an approach that aims to build soil health and fertility, sequester carbon and reduce emissions, enhance watershed quality and increase biodiversity while also improving farmer livelihoods and resilience.

The Task Force focused its work on three specific value chains (wheat in the US, basmati rice in India and potatoes in the UK) with a view to identifying learnings that could be scaled to other crops and geographies with similar characteristics.

It details five key areas which it believes require urgent action to make the economics of regenerative farming more appealing to farmers. These are:

  1. Agree common metrics for environmental outcome
  2. Build farmers’ income from environmental outcomes such as carbon reduction and remova
  3. Create mechanisms to share the cost of transition with farmer
  4. Ensure government policy enables and rewards farmers for transitio
  5. Develop new sourcing models to spread the cost of transition

The Task Force is set to continue its work into 2023 to drive the implementation of the report’s Big 5 recommendations. Further discussions with key stakeholders will take place next week at COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh.

Launched at The World Economic Forum 2020 Annual Meeting in Davos, and under the mandate of the Terra Carta, the Sustainable Markets Initiative’s mission is to build a coordinated global effort to enable the private sector to accelerate the transition to a sustainable future.

Andrew Morlet, CEO, Ellen MacArthur Foundation, commented: “It is very encouraging to see leading businesses coming together to agree on key actions they can take to support farmers in the transition to regenerative farming systems. Regenerating nature is a fundamental principle of the circular economy, and transforming the way in which we produce and consume food is one of the most powerful ways in which we can do this. Recognising the key role food design plays in creating the demand for regeneratively sourced ingredients is at the heart of our vision of circular design for food, and we are excited to see this included in the action plan. We look forward to working together on this agenda and seeing the insights in the Agribusiness Taskforce Action Plan come to fruition.”

Arne Cartridge, Interim Executive Director, The Food Collective, said, “Scaling regenerative farming is key as we need to shift to a nature positive food future. The work by the Sustainable Markets Initiative’s Agribusiness Taskforce in addressing the hurdles and moving us to action is therefore one that we all should rally behind. The report provides an excellent overview of the key barriers to transition to regenerative food production. Specifically, the ‘Big Five’ provides a clear direction of travel on where pre-competitive collaboration across the full food value chain is deeply needed. We look forward to continuing our collaboration with SMI Agribusiness Taskforce towards this shared mission of scaling regenerative food systems with farmers at the centre.”

Peter Bakker, President & CEO of WBCSD and Co-Chair of OP2B, commented, “The SMI Action Plan for scaling regenerative farming establishes the important roles that businesses and policy makers play by re-aligning incentives from status quo to regenerative agriculture. With OP2B, we will build from SMI’s report and dive deeper on how this transition can take place on a farm level and continue our efforts to align the industry around shared metrics to create a level-playing field for outcome-based payments.”

Download the full report (pdf)