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325082

Soil Carbon Initiative launches new farm certification pilots

The Soil Carbon Initiative (SCI) announced its 2022 go-to-market pilots focused on farmers.

SCI is an independently verified, outcomes-based regenerative agriculture certification program open to all farms and companies in the food supply chain.

While SCI’s earlier pilots concentrated on the technical aspects of soil testing protocols, the 2022 Go-to-Market Pilots build on that work by inviting farmers to apply for 100 new spots to benefit from information, market access, networking opportunities, and SCI labeling to verify progress to companies and consumers. The deadline to apply is April 5, 2022.

SCI was launched in 2019 in partnership with over 150 farms, companies, NGOs and soil scientists. The initiative is a commitment and verification program that empowers and incentivizes farmers and the food supply chain to transition acreage to regenerative management. It drives soil health, carbon sequestration, biodiversity, water quality, climate resiliency, food security, farm profitability, and improved rural community economics.

Alisa Gravitz, president and chief executive officer of Green America, says, “The Soil Carbon Initiative is a world-changing commitment and verification program designed to address the soil health and climate crises, scale regenerative agriculture and contribute to farm prosperity.”

“We welcome all producers who are interested in beginning or deepening their soil health journey to join our Go-to-Market pilots," Erin Gorman, SCI director and Maryland-based farmer, says.

Benefits to farmers participating in the 2022 Go-to-Market Pilots Program include:

  • Access to the world’s best soil health tests that provide real data on soil health progress and interpretive guidance and planning
  • Focusing on soil health helps farms reduce input costs and increase profitability
  • Farmers who are part of the Go-to-Market pilots become part of SCI’s Founding Farmer network to exchange ideas with other farmers and provide advice to shape the future of SCI
  • SCI helps farmers get ready for the growing market of companies and consumers looking to connect with farms focusing on soil health and climate outcomes. 
  • Earn the SCI label to verify progress to companies and consumers

Pilot costs are covered for soil health tests and a cost share for expert regenerative consultants. Annual fees will always be waived for members of the SCI Founding Farmers network, and members have first eligibility for the SCI Farm Fund for transition investments and ongoing dividends (starting in 2023).

Backed by farmers and other leaders in this space, the standard is designed to be practical, accessible and both farmer and business-friendly. It is open to any company and farmer, in any production system, growing:

  • Feed grain and/or hay
  • Food grade oats
  • Food grade wheat
  • Specialty crops - tomatoes, almonds, olives, citrus
  • Peas, pulses, legumes
  • Crops for the supplement and/or vitamin industry
  • Farms practicing Indigenous foodways and/or owned by BIPOC farmers

"SCI is the most encompassing soil health program that I have ever seen, and the fact that it is non-exclusive with other certifications makes it even better! There are so many great aspects to SCI – access to guidance and support with farm planning, an emphasis on outcomes and progress, and the opportunity to improve farm profitability and market recognition," Steve Tucker at Tucker Farms in Rome, Georgia, says.

The Soil Carbon Initiative’s outcome-based verified standard also gives food producers and manufacturers the ability to measure and motivate soil health improvements.

Producers in any system – conventional, organic, non-GMO, biodynamic – are eligible for SCI verification. Centered in the Climate Smart discussion and based on demonstrated soil health and carbon sequestration results, the SCI standard rewards commitments, improvement, and achievement in soil health and soil carbon.

Raquel Krach at Massa Organics in Glenn, California, said: “Having a solid farm plan is a critical tool that farmers need to succeed with regenerative agriculture. By providing education and guidance, SCI can ensure that farmers who enroll in this program have the best chance to get it right from the start.”

SCI independent verification is conducted by SCS Global in Emeryville, California, and soil health testing by Regen Ag Labs in Pleasanton, Nebraska.

For more information, including details for joining an information session webinar for farmers and interested companies on March 15, 2022 at 12:00 p.m. EDT/9:00 a.m. PDT, go to https://www.soilcarboninitiative.org/pilots.

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