IT WAS a question from one of the more than 400 visitors to Agriwebb's 'The Future of Farming series: Regenerative Agriculture' that exposed an unresolved quandary.
How do you create a brand consumers can relate to, and retailers can use as a stamp of assured quality, so regenerative farmers can fetch premium prices?
Speaking at Thursday's webinar were AgriWebb founder John Fargher, National Farmers Federation chief executive Tony Mahar, Regenerative Agriculture Alliance founder Lorraine Gordon, grass-fed Wagyu breeder Sam Trethewey, Deloraine, Tasmania, and regenerative farmer Charlie Arnott, Boorowa.
The notion of regenerative agriculture and the preferred "triple bottom line" outcomes seems something difficult to brand.
Mr Mahar said consumer purchasing behaviour was very complex, analysing it was more art than science.
"As an industry we have to work towards certification of regenerative ag and the metrics that support it," he said.
Mr Trethewey said some sort of quantification was needed to apply to regen ag to protect its integrity.
"From a commercial point of view retailers want a label that can be quantified," he said. But, while organics had established rigid protocols, he said that might not be the way regen ag should go.
This was backed up by Ms Gordon, who said organics had "shot themselves in the foot" because the definition was so prescriptive.
"If we pigeon hole producers we will miss opportunities," she said.
Mr Arnott said certification needed to be distilled to something that was tangible.
"We are producing food, so why not manage nutrient density and residual chemicals in the food? They're quite easy to measure."
Ms Gordon said an holistic approach to management was first needed, then agtech could play a role in defining the benefits of regen ag. "Tech is just a tool, once you have your system running then tech has its place," she said.
Mr Trethewey said regen ag did need to create the "proof in the pudding", with benchmarks and measurements. AgriWebb's Mr Fargher said tech definitiely had a place in helping to measure and quanitify.
Ms Gordon said one thing Covid-19 had shown society is that we cannot afford to look at things in isolation.
She said study she was undertaking right now suggested practising regen ag was making families more resilient. Mr Trethewey said past the farm gate there was a lot of excitement about regen ag practices.
The quest for a label that can define the notion of regenerative agriculture so consumers can understand - and be willing to pay more for products - is a work in progress.
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