Dave Chapman’s Letter to CDFA about creating a legal definition for regenerative agriculture with or without chemicals.


Dear California Department of Organic Agriculture:

I would like to offer comments on the California definition of Regenerative Agriculture. I am writing both as a long time certified organic farmer from Vermont and as Co-director of the Real Organic Project.

California’s definition of Regenerative might be as significant as your definition of Organic. We now have a Federal definition for Organic which gets buffeted, but still remains the most important destination for millions of Americans seeking an alternative to the conventional food system. It is the responsibility of our government to protect the integrity and transparency of these terms, thus serving both farmers and eaters.

I urge you to require Organic as a base for Regenerative. The term originated from the writing of Bob Rodale. It was later promoted by Allan Savory, and then it became a movement. The early meaning was always to take the basic principles of organic agriculture and build on that to focus more on climate impact and worker & animal welfare. If California embraces that early meaning (which is what most consumers assume it to mean), then regenerative will become a major influence on our food system.

If California allows the use of chemical herbicides (plus chemical fertilizers and other pesticides) to be included in “Regenerative,” then the term will have a short life in the marketplace. There is no reason to create a mushy standard that is “chemical-lite.” The definition I suggest is what eaters are actually seeking out. It would be historic and important if California were to support eaters in their search for alternative ways of producing food. It would do no damage to conventional agriculture, merely offering farmers another pathway to a new market. Many people want an ethical food system that finds other ways of solving problems than turning to chemical inputs.

There is already plenty of chemical farming being practiced. Let’s give people a real choice.

Thank you,

Dave Chapman

Long Wind Farm

Co-Director Real Organic Project