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4.2. How to be a part of change?

Earlier in the course, you learnt what kind of action farmers need to take in order to engage in regenerative farming. Now let’s look at how all of us can get involved in removing the obstacles that are preventing us from transitioning to regenerative farming. You can also find out what other organisations are already doing to promote regenerative farming. Maybe you’ll find suitable ways to get involved too!

Information and research

New research and field trials are being carried out in the area of regenerative farming and the methods are therefore constantly evolving. This is important, so that we can be certain that the most effective methods are actually being used. 

Measuring is an important area in which we are continually seeking new knowledge. When we learn how to measure carbon sequestration more easily, more efficiently and more reliably, it will also make it easier to create a variety of compensation systems. This will help a broad range of parties to commit to the transition. It will be easier for food chain companies to support regenerative farming, and inform people about their support, when they can prove how impactful these methods really are.

Producing new information is not just a task for research institutes. Companies, for example, can act as enablers by supporting research projects.

Watch this video in which Tuomas Mattila, a Senior Researcher at the Finnish Environment Centre, highlights how research data is promoting the transition to regenerative farming.  

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Collaboration between operators

The large-scale mobilisation of regenerative farming requires collaboration between farmers, researchers and companies. Bringing different operators together lowers the threshold for utilising the latest research and incorporating the best farmingmethods into food production. The Carbon Action collaboration platform was established for this very purposeand it serves as an example of how to effectively promote regenerative farming in our society through concrete action.

BSAG is responsible for the coordination of Carbon Action and  the collaboration with farmers and businesses. The Finnish Meteorological Institute oversees research collaboration on the platform.

Watch this video in which Pieta Jarva, Strategic Director at BSAG, discusses Carbon Action collaboration.

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Training and communications

Researchers and other experts also play an important role in increasing knowledge among farmers. Support and advice are required during the transition phase in particular. Regenerative farming also brings farmers together in communities through which they can share information, successes and failures. These communities can be built and maintained by companies or other organisations, such as BSAG, who can also provide training.

And it’s not only farmers who need more information about regenerative farming. Easily approachable information should also be available to consumers, for example. Companies can promote this through their communications. It is important for consumers to understand the concrete nature of the changes, and the work that producers are doing will also be brought closer to those consuming their products.

Why does Nestlé want to promote regenerative farming?

Nestlé Finland is working with BSAG to train its Finnish producers on regenerative farming. So why does Nestlé want to be a pioneer in regenerative farming? Nestlé has discovered that two-thirds of the company’s greenhouse gas emissions come from primary production and agriculture. It is therefore aiming to produce a fifth of its main ingredients through regenerative farming by 2025. The company’s target for 2030 is 50%, which means about 14 million tons of ingredients.

Nestlé says it will spend more than a billion euros on promoting regenerative farming globally by 2025. This sum will be used for farmer training, research, financial support for the transition, and more. 

Now let’s watch as Ulla Luhtasela, Nestlé’s Nordic Sustainability Manager (from 2021 to 2023), tells us about the action that Nestlé has taken in Finland.

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Regulations and criteria

Agriculture and its associated methods are an important social issue. Legislation and high-level criteria for food production are set nationally and also, for example, at EU level. The types of subsidies and compensation that are steering farmers is a political issue. Policymakers therefore have a responsibility and a role to play when regenerative farming methods become an integral part of agriculture.

Although there are still no general criteria for regenerative farming, companies can incorporate regenerative farming methods into their own procurement criteria. For example, this could be done for specific products or product groups that can be branded through the benefits of regenerative farming.

Carlsberg’s sustainable brewery products

Regenerative farming is part of Carlsberg’s Together Towards Zero and Beyond (TTZAB) sustainability programme. The brewery group has committed to a 2030 target of purchasing 30% of its malting barley from producers who employ regenerative farming methods. The goal is to reach 100% by 2040.

There are already several Carlsberg brewery products on the market, in which regenerative farming has been brought to the centre of the brand. For example, the Christmas beer sold by Sinebrychoff, one of the Group’s companies operating in Finland, is produced using regenerative farming methods.

Watch Carlsberg’s ESG Manager Eskild Andersen explain how regenerative farming products are being brought to store shelves.

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A brand built around regenerative farming?

Anora is a Nordic listed company that produces, among other things, alcoholic beverages, and the main ingredient for its products is domesticbarley. Anora buys over 200 million kilograms of barley per year from about 1,500 Finnish farms. The company’s ambitious sustainability goals include significantly increasing the proportion of regeneratively farmed barley.

In the video below, Petra Gräsbeck, Director of Communications and Sustainability at Anora, explains how regenerative farming is used in marketing and how it is being developed in collaboration with farmers.

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Financial support

Financial uncertainty is a barrier to change. Transitioning to regenerative farming incurs costs for the farmer, and learning new things takes time. There are many ways of supporting farmers. Companies can provide farmerswith financial support for the transition by, for example, paying a higher price for regeneratively farmed products.

One instrument in the formation of farmers’ income in the future can be the voluntary carbon market. It allows companies to offset their emissions and enables carbon sequestering farmers to be compensated for their work. Although the mechanisms used in the carbon market require some refinement, we should still take action without delay. The climate can’t wait.

Valio – towards carbon-neutral milk production

Most of the emissions from milk production are generated by dairy farms. Emissions are also generated by transportation, at factories and in the manufacture of packaging. Valio Ltd is Finland’s largest food company and its climate action is based on the latest research. The company is aiming for carbon-neutral milk production by 2035. This goal will be achieved by both reducing emissions and increasing carbon storage in the soil. Promoting climate-friendly agriculture is one important step in this journey. Valio provides its dairy farmers with training on carbon farming, and around 1,500 dairy farms received this training in 2019–2023. Valio also offers a sustainability bonus that provides financial support to farms that have introduced carbon farming methods in their fields.

In this video, Valio’s Development Manager Virpi Kling explains how regenerative farming is helping the company to achieve its sustainability goals.

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The transition to regenerative farming is not a small local job – it requires effort at all stages of the food chain. It’s a question of information and communication, structures and politics, but also the economy and the fact that the transition will be profitable for farmers and other food chain companies. However, all of this is possible and the transition is already well underway. The next question is, do you want to get involved?

  • Include regenerative agriculture in the company’s climate or sustainability programmes.
  • Making commitments (for example, BSAG Baltic Sea Commitment).
  • Social advocacy work to promote structural reforms.

Training and communications

  • Training, counselling and communities for regenerative farmers.
  • Information about regenerative farming within your own company.
  • Consumer-focused content.

Procurement and product development

  • Include regenerative farming in your procurement criteria.
  • Products or product groups that are mainly produced using regenerative farming methods.

Financial activities

  • Support for research projects.
  • Transitional support for farms that are starting to farm regeneratively.
  • Paying higher compensation to producers for regeneratively farmed products and ingredients
  • Carbon market.

Now consider the actions outlined above from your own perspective

  • What types of regenerative farming activities could be right for your business?
  • What is the first thing you will do?
  • Can you think of anything else in addition to the measures described above?
  • How would you justify these measures to your colleagues within the company? Why is regenerative farming important to you?

If you want, you can download a list of ways in which companies can take concrete action for change.

You have now finished the material in lesson 4, except for the final test of the lesson. Mark this topic as completed before taking the test.