Kepak has become the first Irish business to commit to a new global framework for regenerative agriculture practices.

The framework, launched today (Wednesday, September 27) by the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative Platform (SAI), provides the industry with a globally aligned approach for the transition to regenerative agricultural practices.

These practices are currently being implemented and tested on Kepak Farm in Dunboyne, Co. Meath.

Regenerative agriculture practices

SAI is a non-profit organisation driving global development in sustainable agriculture, and Kepak is the only beef processor globally to subscribe to the new framework’s aims.

Other global businesses including Nestlé, Danone, Unilever and PepsiCo have also committed to the new global standard.

With climate change set to decrease the productivity of farming globally by up to 30%, Kepak has said that we are at a critical moment for the agriculture industry.

The Regenerating Together framework and broader programme aim to unite the food and beverage industry to bring about large-scale, long-term systemic change to future-proof global food supply.

In collaboration with farmers, academia, NGOs (non-governmental organisations) and the committed businesses, SAI Platform said that it has established an aligned approach to agriculture.

This approach aims to: Mitigate and adapt to the impact of climate change; improve soil health; support biodiversity; retain water in the soil and reduce its consumption; while keeping farmers’ business viability central in a just transition approach.

SAI Platform’s Regenerating Together programme aims to unite the agriculture industry with a common goal – a resilient and productive food system that will regenerate natural ecosystems and improve the quality of farmers’ livelihoods.

The framework is designed for practical use at farm level to drive farmers’ transition to regenerative agriculture.

It will allow crops, dairy and beef farmers anywhere in the world to work with supply chain partners to achieve measurable regenerative agriculture outcomes.

The framework will also be integrated into SAI Platform’s existing industry solutions including the European Roundtable for Beef Sustainability (ERBS), the Farm Sustainability Assessment (FSA) and the Sustainable Dairy Partnership (SDP).

Areas of impact

SAI Platform’s Regenerating Together programme identifies four key areas of impact: Water; soil; biodiversity; and climate.

It has devised four clear steps through which to enact the framework: Risk screening assessment; outcome selection; the adoption of principles and practices; and the monitoring and assessment of progress.

Rebecca Thomson, Kepak group sustainability manager commented: “Having been part of the SAI Regenerative Agriculture steering committee for the past two years, Kepak [has] been involved in the development and piloting of the regenerative agriculture framework on supplier farms in the Ireland and the UK.

“Based on the results we can see the potential this can have to provide clarity and consistency at farm level which will reduce greenhouse gas [GHG] emissions, restore and enhance water quality and biodiversity and regenerate soils which will embed the agri-food sector in the circular regenerative bioeconomy.”

Kepak Farm

Located in Dunboyne, Co. Meath, Kepak Farm is a store-to-beef finishing enterprise.

Efficiency and sustainability are key on Kepak Farm, where cattle are fed homegrown crops of barley, wheat and maize.

The farm hosts regular knowledge transfer sessions with its farmer supply base and producer groups on topics such as: Herd health; sourcing policies; intake protocols; biosecurity; housing facilities; nutrition; sustainability; meeting market specification; and best practice farm management.