These terms have been used interchangeably about agriculture. But each term has its own definition.
For instance, The USDA defines Organic Agriculture as “a production system that is managed to respond to site-specific conditions by integrating cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity.”
Sustainable Agriculture is defined by the USDA as “Economically Viable: If it is not profitable, it is not sustainable; Socially Supportive: The quality of life of farmers, farm families and farm communities is important; and Ecologically Sound: We must preserve the resource base that sustains us all.”
Then there’s Regenerative Agriculture. New to the arena, the USDA does not offer a definitive definition of regenerative agriculture. However Regeneration International has defined regenerative agriculture as “farming and grazing practices that, among other benefits, reverse climate change by rebuilding soil organic matter and restoring degraded soil biodiversity”
At HMI, we’ve explained regenerative agriculture this way; “An agriculture focused on regenerative practices is by definition an agriculture focused on improving soil health through increased soil carbon and life in the soil. While industrial agriculture has been mining the soil of minerals, fertility, and life for the last 50+ years, regenerative agriculture is about growing and feeding soil life.”
Perhaps one of the best ways to understand regenerative agriculture is to read this article from Vitacost. In the article, Vitacost writer John Egan talks with Kevin Boyer; HMI Board member and founder and director of the nonprofit Regenerative Agriculture Foundation. Be sure to read what Kevin has to say about regenerative agriculture, and why it’s vital to the future of farming and ranching.
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