“ If we can’t use our brand power to do good, then it’s really not a power at all.” -- Jeanne Wilson, Director, Kashi Brand Marketing
Less than 1% of US farmland is organic.
We’re not kidding.
At Kashi, we’re passionate about increasing this number, because the more organic farmland we have, the less synthetic fertilizers we find in our waterways and the healthier our soil health can be. Not to mention the personal health benefits of consuming less pesticides in our diets. Back in 2015, we set out to find a way to support farmers who wanted to convert their farms to organic but were faced with insurmountable financial challenges. We partnered with Quality Assurance International (QAI), a USDA NOP accredited third-party organic certification company, to create a “Certified Transitional” (CT) standard, and have been working to increase the percentage of organic farmland, one acre at a time, ever since.
Read on to learn more about CT, why it matters, and how you can play a role in helping US farmers convert to organic.
WHY IS IT SO HARD FOR FARMERS TO SWITCH TO ORGANIC IN THE FIRST PLACE?
To understand why so little US farmland is organic, first we need to understand why it’s so hard for a farmer to make the transition. You see, farmers can’t just adopt organic practices to be considered an organic farm... Instead, it takes three years for them to become eligible for the USDA Organic certification. During this time they need to make a significant investment in new machinery and processes yet they are unable to charge a premium for their crops in transition to offset their costs. On top of that, they often see smaller yields when they start to transition. For many, the financial stakes are simply too high.
WHAT DOES CERTIFIED TRANSITIONAL ACTUALLY MEAN?
In its simplest form, Certified Transitional is a certification that shows that farmers are following a certain set of guidelines that reflect those of organic farming during the transition period. And just like the USDA Organic or Non-GMO Project Verified labels, the Certified Transitional badge symbolizes goods produced at the highest standards. Farms in the program will be audited to make sure they are adhering to all its requirements. As a result, farmers can sell their CT crops at a premium price, therefore receiving the financial support they need to complete the full three year transition period.
WHY IT MATTERS
Organic farming is better for us and better for our planet. Yet because of the limited supply of organic farmland in the US, some food companies have gone as far as purchasing entire organic farms to make sure they have a continued supply of organic ingredients. One of the things we love so much about the CT program is that by supporting individual farmers transitioning to organic, we can help them keep ownership of their land and their business. What’s more, the certification has brought public attention to the difficulties farmers face in converting to organic and it gives consumers a way to play a role in supporting them.
CT WHEAT IN KASHI GO -- WHY SUCH A BIG DEAL?
Ok, this is where things get really exciting! As of 2020, we are introducing CT wheat to our line of Kashi GO cereal. Why is that such a big deal? Simply put, because it’s the number one protein cereal in the US, which means we can take our support of CT to the next level and make a significantly greater impact. In fact, it has allowed us to increase our CT wheat acreage by 1,000 acres. While you might not see the CT logo on the front of the pack (because it contains less than 70% CT ingredients), you will see a “We Support U.S. Farmers” badge on the front moving forward, so you can know that your purchase of our Kashi GO cereals is supporting farmers on their journey to organic.
CT WHEAT IN KASHI GO -- WHY SUCH A BIG DEAL?
CT is not an overnight solution to the lack of organic farmland in the US, but it is a long-term one that allows us to work with one farmer at a time, and one acre at a time. Here are some of the things Kashi has been able to achieve since the start of the program in 2015:
-9,000+ acres of farmland transitioned from conventional to organic
-$3.5MM+ paid in premiums to farmers to help them convert to organic
-Partnered with 19 farmers on their journey to organic
As far as we see it, this is just the beginning. Our hope is that more and more brands start to support farmers during their transition by embracing Certified Transitional, and that consumers like you understand what it is, so you too can make a difference...One bowl of cereal at a time.