According to organic and non-GMO market data firm Mercaris, currently, 99% of US agricultural farmland is cultivated under conventional processes, relying on synthetic chemical inputs that negatively impact long term soil health. Conventional agriculture is a leading source of climate impact and causes continual topsoil loss, costing the US more than a trillion dollars every year.
With soil being the foundation of 95% of our food system, this doesn’t bode well for long-term sustainability.
Restoring soil health and its natural ability to draw down atmospheric carbon is a critical step to addressing these climate and soil crises.
Food industry’s social and ethical responsibility
Quinn has built a reputation for its commitment to regenerative agriculture and has partnered with the Soil Carbon Initiative (SCI) – run by nonprofit Green America – to boost the number of farmers transitioning to the better-for-the-planet processes.
For the past two years, the Boulder-based snack maker has worked with Nebraska sorghum grower Steve Tucker, an SCI farmer partner, in his transition to regenerative practices.
“SCI is on the forefront of developing a system to recognise the value of a regeneratively produced product for consumers, the brands they buy from and the farmers that produce them,” said Tucker.
He grows sorghum, a crucial ingredient for Quinn’s supply chain since it debuted the world’s first whole-grain, gluten-free pretzels in 2016. Due to its drought tolerance, the nutrient-dense grain requires 30% less water than other grains, and an estimated 91% of sorghum acres are rainfed, saving 1.5 trillion gallons of irrigation water per year, according to the United Sorghum Checkoff Program.
“There is room for all farmers, conventional and organic, in the regenerative agriculture movement. You don’t have to be doing it perfectly to be doing it better,” said Kristy Lewis, Quinn’s founder and chief visionary officer.
“As a food company, we have a social and ethical responsibility to continue to push against the status quo to create massive change within our food and ag industries. Working with SCI allows us to do just that. It’s an incredibly aligned partnership.”
Sign up to the SCI
The SCI is a commitment and third-party verification programme for soil and climate health.
It was created with broad supply chain support – from farmers to global food companies and soil and climate scientists – in order to be scientifically rigorous yet practical and accessible for all farms and businesses.
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: conventional, organic, non-GMO, biodynamic.
In March 2022, SCI launched its Go-To-Market Pilots, which are currently underway with a cohort of farmers and companies. To-date, nearly 50 farmers across 18 states have enrolled over 24,000 acres.
Benefits to participating farmers:
- Information: Access to the world’s best soil health tests that provide real data on soil health progress – and interpretive guidance and planning for the producer’s best next steps, depending on farm goals, since every farm is different .
- Farm Profitability: Focusing on soil health helps farms reduce input costs and increase profitability.
- Network: 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.
- Market: 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.
- Label & Verification: Earn the SCI label to verify your progress to companies and consumers.
- 2022 Financial Benefits: Pilot costs are covered for soil health tests and a cost share for expert regenerative consultants.
- 2023 and Beyond Financial Benefits: 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.
Revolutionising the food system
Alisa Gravits, president and CEO of Green America, has lauded Quinn for its forward-thinking action for people and the planet.
“We recognise Quinn for their unwavering leadership in creating a regenerative future that rebuilds soil health, restores the climate and revitalises farm and rural community prosperity.
“Our share vision is to revolutionise the food system.
“SCI gives companies a roadmap to assess their agricultural impact, support regenerative farmers and demonstrate real impact.”
Added Lewis, “As part of our commitment to regenerative agriculture and earning the SCI verification, Qinn is committed to removing and eliminating synthetic chemicals and pesticides from the supply chain to create healthier soils while bettering our farmers, our families and our planet.”
The SCI is an initiative of Green America, a Washington DC-based nonprofit founded in 1982 with the mission to harness marketplace solutions to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society.