Kudos to Rodale and its industry partners for launching the Regenerative Organic Certification (ROC) program in the US. It’s the gap-filler they need until the US National Organic Program can be revitalised by the grassroots—OR—maybe it is a solution, considering the challenges they have met in trying to keep the US National Organic Program robust.
The three areas of focus for the ROC are:
• increasing soil organic matter,
• improving animal welfare, and
• economic stability and fairness for farmers, ranchers, and workers.
In principle, these sound complementary to our Canadian Organic Standards—but when I think about it, I am not sure.
The Canadian standards require soil building (5.4.1) and organic matter to be generated on farm (5.4.5). So, if we are following our standards, we are building soil organic matter. Do Canadian consumers need the additional re-assurance the ROC delivers?
Similarly, prescriptive animal welfare criteria were added into the 2015 update of our national standards, as well as an overarching welfare requirement (6.1.6). Do we need the extra criteria outlined in the ROC?
And I know there is a petition for the 2018-2020 review, urging the addition of a social fairness element into the standards.
These are the questions we need to answer in Canada: Are the new Regenerative Organic Certification standards applicable in the Canadian landscape? Are there gaps in our Canadian Organic Standards that need filling—and does the ROC have what we need to fill them? Do we need another label in the marketplace to fill that gap? Especially one with multiple tiers?
Only time will tell.