Publication – UC Berkeley, Center of Law, Energy, and the Environment

In December 2020, UC Berkeley’s Center for Law, Energy, and the Environment (CLEE) published a report on ways that policy and investment could support the spread of regenerative practices in agriculture. The report is the result of a virtual convening of farmers, policy experts, advocates, and investors as well as months of interviews and follow-up conversations with participants.

The report notes that scaling regenerative agriculture has been a missed opportunity “especially during a global pandemic and recession, when a shift could otherwise drive greater economic, environmental, and food system resilience.”  It identifies five critical obstacles to scaling regenerative practices: economic constraints, misaligned policy incentives, structural racism and concentration of market power, lack of consensus and knowledge around regenerative farming, and challenges of achieving land tenure. In addition, the report recommends six strategies across public and private sectors to address these challenges.


1) Develop a More Robust Research Base
Research institutions should advance the scientific case for regenerative agriculture and standardize measurement protocols


2) Reform Crop Insurance
Congress and the US Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency should reform crop insurance to reflect the risk reduction benefits associated with regenerative practices

3) Redefine Risk
Federal and state governments, banks and investors should account for the risk reduction benefits of regenerative practices and reflect those benefits in financing and direct payments

4) Advance State-Level Policies 
State governments should expand investments in effective existing policies like incentive programs and peer-to-peer support network initiatives


5) Prioritize Equity in Agricultural Policies
Government at all levels should develop more integrated and equitable systems to serve farmers, such as streamlined technology platforms and more robust technical assistance

6) Urge Landowners and Supply Chain Actors to Enable Regenerative Production
Landowners and supply chains should help promote regenerative farming among tenants and farmers by incorporating flexibility into contracts and removing barriers


Redefining Value and Risk in Agriculture Policy and Investment Solutions to Scale the Transition to Regenerative AgricultureWe took particular note of the recommendation to reform crop insurance.  Conservation and regenerative practices have been shown to reduce agricultural risks and are recognized and incentivized in multiple federal and state programs. The $9 billion federal crop-insurance program, which impacts practices on 80% of the nation’s arable acres, still largely incentivizes conventional practices and commodity crops. Unsurprisingly, this subsidized crop insurance program is slowing the transition of our nation’s food system to a more regenerative model.

To explore the report and all of its excellent recommendations, please click here.