What is the difference between Regenerative Organic Certified® and USDA Certified Organic?

Regenerative Organic Certified® and USDA Certified Organic

Regenerative Organic Certified® and USDA Certified Organic are product labels denoting that the products that are branded with these labels were made in compliance with the required standards to be certified. The US Department of Agriculture's National Organic Program (NOP) oversees the USDA Certified Organic, while Regenerative Organic Alliance is the certifying body for Regenerative Organic Certified.  

Let's take a look at them individually.  

USDA Certified Organic 

USDA organic seal

USDA-certified organic is a seal of approval for agricultural products with at least 95% organic ingredients. It indicates that the food is manufactured following government guidelines, and has been cultivated without harmful chemicals, antibiotics, synthetic hormones, or genetically modified seeds/organisms. The label on livestock items confirms that farmers adhered to requirements for animal health and welfare, did not use antibiotics or growth hormones, utilized only 100% organic feed, and allowed animals access to the outdoors.  

Regenerative Organic Certified®


Regenerative Organic Certified® (ROCTM) certifies food, textiles, and personal care products with the highest standards. Its foundation builds on USDA Certified Organic standards while incorporating other vital benchmarks that combine the principal components of regenerative organic farming. The certification includes three levels:

  • ROC Bronze
  • ROC Silver, and 
  • ROC Gold

Each calls for a different quantity and range of organic and regenerative methods. To keep the accreditation, farms and businesses must upgrade their levels over time. The ROCTM assures that products have adhered to stricter criteria than organic in terms of soil health, animal welfare, and fairness to farm workers. 

What Differentiates USDA Certified Organic from Regenerative Organic Certified®

The term "certified organic" on product labels designate those made under the Organic Foods Production Act. The "USDA Organic" seal denotes the product has been produced and handled following a stringent set of guidelines regulated by the government. The act was passed in 1990, marking the beginning of the label. It is important to note that a mandatory criterion is "organic" in USDA Certified Organic labels, but that's as far as it goes. This means you can be sure the soil on which the ingredients were grown was managed without the use of harmful fertilizers and pesticides but not about whether the condition of the soil is improving. This is the major highlighted difference between the two labels.  

USDA Certified Organic: The label indicates efforts were made to promote sustainable farming, ecological balance, and conserve biological diversity.  

Regenerative Organic Certified®: The label indicates the same efforts as the USDA Certified Organic but takes it a step further by improving the quality of the soil in which these organic crops are grown.  

Organic labels have shaped the dietary and shopping preferences of a whole generation of consumers. And while it is still significant, the label skips a crucial piece of the agricultural equation. i.e., regenerating the soil. And this is where the brand-new "regenerative organic" certification is filling the gap. It is based on farming principles that integrate concepts of management centered on the health of the soil, a.k.a regenerative agriculture.  

The Regenerative Organic Certified® does not intend to replace the USDA label or other organic labels. In fact, Regenerative Organic Certified® builds on USDA organic, and only products that are certified under the USDA organic program (or NOP equivalent) are eligible to apply for ROC™. ROC-certified bodies must also acquire social justice and animal welfare certifications.    


Regenerative agriculture is not just about practices; it is about principles that replenish the environment. The concepts of soil health underpin this dynamic strategic approach to agriculture. It emphasizes outcomes- genuine advancements in soil health, air quality and water quality and the overall improved quality of life of plants, animals, and humans.  

Regenerative farming methods include cover crops, decreased tillage, and diverse crop rotations. The result is nutrient-rich, heartier soil. Richer soil enables healthier crop growth, increasing yields for farmers. However, the way of farming in regenerative agriculture has no single formula. Working with nature is complex— every farm's natural resources, climatic variability, and animal and ecological dynamics are different. The techniques used can harm or benefit the land, which is why farmers adapt concepts that best fit their land and personal circumstances. 


The pandemic and global warming impacts have increased market demand for more ethical, environmentally responsible, and sustainable goods. By increasing knowledge and awareness of regenerative agriculture as a solution to combat climate change, the world can encourage consumers to look for regenerative organic labels beyond organic. Hopefully, the regenerative organic efforts worldwide will soon bring us to a time when raw ingredients are cultivated most healthily and efficiently possible while also leaving the environment better than we found it.  

Terra Thread prides itself on using only the best ingredients from nature. We're committed to using certified organic cotton on our products as part of our environmental responsibility and goals- No synthetics, GMOs, or harmful chemicals and dyes. And, we are not stopping there. Eventually, we plan to source our certified organic cotton from regenerative organic certified farms. 

Related blog:

5 Companies that offer Regenerative Organic Certified® products

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Terra Thread backpacks, bags, and accessories are created for conscious consumers, corporations, and NGOs who are looking to make a positive impact on the world with their purchases. Terra Thread puts people and the planet first, every step of the way from organic farms to your arms.