Lundberg Family Farms verifies its regenerative farming practices with ROA certification

By Deniz Ataman

- Last updated on GMT

Source: Lundberg Family Farms
Source: Lundberg Family Farms

Related tags regenerative agriculture Rice Transparency

Organic rice maker Lundberg Family Farms partnered with Regenerative Organic Alliance (ROA) to certify more than 70 of its rice products, providing transparency and accountability for its farming methods to consumers without raising its prices, according to the company.

With a rich rice farming history in the US dating back to the Dust Bowl in Nebraska, Lundberg Family Farms, began growing its business in northern California, prioritizing soil health and regenerative practices that “leave the land better than it was found,” for its rice products in the market.

Before industrialization, farmers routinely implemented practices that improved soil health and biodiversity, ensuring the land's continued productivity for future generations. Today, regenerative agriculture has become a prominent concept in the ESG initiatives of CPG and ingredient companies.

Bryce_&_Brita-0001-optimized (1)
Father-daughter duo, Bryce (left) and Brita Lundberg, both third and fourth generation members of the family-owned business. Photo courtesy of Lundberg Family Farms

“We believe the three pillars of regenerative organic certified build on and further the legacy of the organic movement, which was informed and inspired by knowledge from generations of diverse, holistic producers, including Native and indigenous populations,” Brita Lundberg, communications manager, Lundberg Family Farms, said.

Bryce Lundberg, VP agriculture, Lundberg Family Farms, emphasized the impact of having a third-party like the Regenerative Organic Alliance (ROA) certify its more than 8,500 acres of land, clarifying that “regenerative doesn’t have a legal definition like organic does, so it does mean a lot of different things.”

He continued, “Some people might say, ‘Well, I’m just going to plant a cover crop and that makes me regenerative,’ or ‘I’m going to use less pesticides and that makes me regenerative,” which runs the risk of creating consumer confusion or greenwashing.”

Regenerative agriculture is more than just soil health, he explained. Animal welfare and social fairness are equally essential “and go beyond some of the requirements in the organic definition,” he added.

Bryce described the ROA application process as extensive with requirements around soil health, tillage, cover crops, in addition to animal welfare and social fairness. Initially, the ROA certification process began with the parent farm to “show the way” to its partner farms. The parent farm is owned by 40 family members, who also farm rice and sell to Lundberg Family Farms, in addition to neighboring farms who supply and sell them rice.

What is the impact of ROA certification on consumers?

For the consumer, ROA certification offers validation that the 70-plus rice products are grown responsibly and ethically and without a price increase, Brita added.

“As far as the consumer experience, we are not increasing our prices between the organic and regenerative organic-certified rice varieties,” she elaborated.

In addition to the certification, Lundberg Family Farms will implement a new package design “inspired by the ecosystems our farming practices help protect,” including imagery of birds on the farm.

In 2023, the company launched a campaign called “Ducking Good Rice,” to provide more clarity to consumers around the impact of regenerative organic practices and the year-round commitment involved to protect the land and animals, Brita explained.

For example, the family provides habitats for migratory birds and zooplankton and partners with local organizations, like California Waterfowl Association, to rescue an estimated 30,000 duck eggs to be transferred to a local hatchery and later released back into the wild.

“It's just that partnership with nature and that is such an important part of a regenerative organic approach is recognizing that your fields and your farms are part of a broader ecosystem, and finding ways to support that ecosystem,” Brita said.   

She added, “While consumers are increasingly interested in regenerative, there is still a lot of confusion around it, and the soil metric that a lot of people track when they talk about regenerative can be pretty opaque to the average person. But everyone can connect with a fuzzy duckling and understand why it’s important to protect [them] and other species who call our fields home.”

Partnering with local organizations helps maintain the company’s regenerative practices

In addition to the Regenerative Organic Alliance, Lundberg Family Farms is also verified by the California-certified Organic Farmers. With its farms in northern California, which sees a climate like the Mediterranean with “super hot, dry summers and heavy adobe clay soil that holds water like a bathtub,” Lundberg Family Farms uses water to manage its weeds unlike conventional rice farmers that use herbicides to kill grass and aquatic weeds, Brita explained. 

“We use water to drown the grass weeds and then we dry up the fields for 30 days to kill the aquatic weeds,” Brita emphasized, explaining that the climate and soil lend itself to this natural method, which prevents the rice crops from absorbing contaminants from herbicides. In addition, the company stores the rice properly without insects, fumigants and insecticides after the fall harvest.


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