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Published October 2020

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Regenerative Agriculture Report

An agricultural movement’s alignment with farmed animal welfare.

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This report provides an analysis of the opportunities for alignment between the Regenerative Agriculture (RA) movement and the Farmed Animal Protection movement (FAPM). Farm Forward was commissioned to create this report by a client in the funding community. It has been condensed and edited for a larger, but still targeted, audience: funders and advocates who work, or who are interested in working, at the intersection of farmed animal protection and regenerative agriculture. In particular, our imagined reader is someone who already shares certain values with the FAPM—a concern for the suffering of farmed animals, for example—but is unfamiliar with the history, politics, structures, and ideologies that have driven farmed animal protection work in certain directions. We hope this report will facilitate greater investment and participation in farmed animal protection work— and in strategies that involve the RA movement—by helping interested parties identify entry-points for engagement with advocacy groups.

This project was conducted over several months and was motivated by our client’s interest in understanding:

  • The broad landscape of the RA movement.
  • How RA actors incorporate farmed animal welfare into their models or understand farmed animal welfare as central to their missions.
  • Barriers to scaling RA.
  • Opportunities for scaling RA.

We limited the scope of our research to activities taking place in the US. Our methodology included conducting interviews with people working within the RA space, consulting scientific and expert research, and referring to publicly available 990s and nonprofit websites. We also draw upon the direct experience of our team.

Farm Forward is a mission-driven nonprofit advocacy organization that both conducts direct advocacy campaigns against factory farming and provides strategic consultation to advocacy groups, funders, and businesses around farmed animal protection issues. We do not claim to be disinterested parties— rather, a strength we bring to this project is our team’s deep experience as FAPM insiders, including the relationships, insights and intuitions won over years of direct engagement with farmers, companies, and advocacy groups. We also assume certain values on the part of our reader: that the welfare and well-being of farmed animals matters, and that advocacy work which centers farmed animals merits more robust funding and support.

This report is not meant to provide a comprehensive or definitive description of all RA activities. It has focused, instead, on answering certain questions that are of especial interest to our client, whose central aim is to advance farmed animal welfare. Because we conducted this project with the assumption of certain shared values with our reader, we were able to leave out some more granular analysis and data that would be expected in a report claiming academic objectivity.

We have attempted to be transparent when we are expressing Farm Forward’s informed opinions as well as observations based on our own experience rather than outside research or interviews (usually through footnotes). We have also attempted to provide data that is accurate and included citations so that readers can conduct their own research.

One thing to note is that we conducted most of this research prior to the global outbreak of COVID-19, which has dramatically altered the economic landscape in which regenerative agriculture operates. Economic and political decisions being made now and in the near future will play an important role in determining which models of agriculture grow or shrink in the US, and we may face a different regulatory climate for agriculture in the US than we have in the past. While we have incorporated new data into this report wherever possible, we cannot predict the state of regenerative agriculture in the years to come, and we think it is highly worthwhile to revisit many of the questions in this report again in the future to see how their answers may have changed in post COVID-19 America.