Category Archives: Regenerative Farming

Landmark Growing Climate Solutions Act clears Senate

By Jacqui Fatka, Farm Progress

The Growing Climate Solutions Act passed by a vote of 92-8 on the full Senate floor on Thursday. The act has 55 cosponsors, which makes it the first major piece of bipartisan legislation that would help farmers, ranchers and forest landowners reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build climate resilience through voluntary, market-driven programs.

“Addressing the climate crisis is one of the most urgent challenges we face, and our farmers and foresters are an important part of the solution,” says Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich. “The bipartisan Growing Climate Solutions Act is a win-win for farmers, our economy and for our environment. Our bill is a perfect example of how we can work across the aisle and find common ground to address a critical issue affecting all of us and our future.” Continue reading here. (Scroll down).

Additional Recommended Reading

  • AgLines: Sen. Fischer cosponsors bill to help ag producers be part of climate solution, by Robert Pore, The Grand Island Independent. “Nebraska ag producers are good stewards of our land and resources,” [Senator] Fischer said. “They also want to be a part of the climate solution. I am a cosponsor of the bill the Senate passed today. It would enable farmers and ranchers to voluntarily participate in carbon markets so they can build on the great work they are already doing.” 
  • Farm Bureau Applauds Senate Passage of Growing Climate Solutions Act
    The American Farm Bureau Federation applauds the U.S. Senate for passing the Growing Climate Solutions Act.  The act has 55 cosponsors, which makes it the first major piece of bipartisan legislation that would help farmers, ranchers and forest landowners reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build climate resilience through voluntary, market-driven programs. The House is currently working on its version of the Growing Climate Solutions Act.
  • Rural Affairs applauds Senate for passing Growing Climate Solutions Act, Center for Rural Affairs News Release. “Carbon payment programs offer a financial opportunity for farmers voluntarily implementing important conservation on their farms,” said Kayla Bergman, senior policy associate for the Center. “While there has been growing excitement for these programs, we are now at a point where setting standard protocols is necessary.”
  • Senate OKs bill to certify farm practices limiting emissions, by John Flesher, AP Environmental Writer, Phys.Org. Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federatioin, said lack of access to reliable information about carbon markets and a shortage of technical assistance have deterred some landowners. The bill “acknowledges the potential of climate-smart farming while ensuring farmers would be respected as partners who can build on our strong foundation of environmental stewardship,” Duvall said.
  • Carbon market faces new questions, Iowa Farmer Today
    “The market is rejuvenating,” says Shelby Myers, an economist with the American Farm Bureau. Iowa State University economist Chad Hart says the idea of carbon markets — paying farmers for their conservation practices that keep carbon in the soil — appears to be more economically sustainable now. “I think we will see something now that will stick around for a while,” he says.

Midlands Voices: Voluntary programs are the key tools to promote Nebraska conservation

By Anne Hubbard, Jim Armitage, Richard Fruehling and Ron Schaefer,
The Nature Conservancy

We are writing in support of the 30-by-30 plan for conservation of American’s land and water, also referred to as “America the Beautiful.” The Board of Trustees for The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is committed to advancing conservation practices on private lands; Nebraska is, of course, a private lands state, and to fulfill this mission, we rely on the leadership of ranchers and farmers.

Many of our staff members, trustees, families and friends work in agriculture, and as Nebraskans, none of us are far removed from the farm or the ranch. TNC proudly works alongside private landowners, landowner-led conservation associations, agribusinesses, and Tribal, state and federal partners to provide conservation tools to landowners through voluntary programs. It is this type of collaboration that ultimately leads to success. Read more here.

Dr. Anne Hubbard, board chair emeritus, and Dr. Jim Armitage, Dr. Richard Fruehling and Ron Schaefer wrote this essay on behalf of the executive committee of The Nature Conservancy’s Board of Trustees. The Nature Conservancy is a conservation organization and private landowner in Nebraska with more than 5,000 member-households.

Related Reading: Saving 30 By 2030, The Nature Conservancy 

Image Credit: The Nature Conservancy in Nebraska Facebook Photos

The Nature Conservancy In Nebraska

MORE ABOUT AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL

America the Beautiful, U.S. Department of the Interior
As directed by President Biden’s Executive Order 14008, Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad, the Department of the Interior has partnered with the Departments of Agriculture and Commerce, National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration, and the White House’s Council on Environmental Quality to develop initial recommendations on how to advance an inclusive and collaborative conservation vision. 

President Biden has issued a call to action that we work together to conserve, connect, and restore 30 percent of our lands and waters by 2030 for the sake of our economy, our health, and our well-being. 

To meet the moment, the Biden-Harris administration has launched “America the Beautiful,” a decade-long challenge to pursue a locally led and voluntary, nationwide effort to conserve, connect, and restore the lands, waters, and wildlife upon which we all depend. A recent report outlines the key principles that will guide our conservation efforts, including: 

America The Beautiful (PDF)

USDA’S CONSERVATION RESERVE PROGRAM

 

 

 

 

 

USDA Announces New Initiative to Quantify Climate Benefits of Conservation Reserve Program
Proposals for CRP Climate Change Mitigation Assessment Initiative Due July 2, 2021.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) has launched an initiative to quantify the climate benefits of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contracts. This multi-year effort will enable USDA to better target CRP toward climate outcomes and improve existing models and conservation planning tools while supporting USDA’s goal of putting American agriculture and forestry at the center of climate-smart solutions to address climate change. “CRP is a powerful tool for implementing voluntary, measurable conservation outcomes to mitigate the impacts of climate change,” said FSA Administrator Zach Ducheneaux.

Links to More Information

In April, the USDA announced updates to CRP including higher payment rates, new incentives for environmental practices and a more targeted focus on the program’s role in climate change mitigation Download USDA’s “What’s New” fact sheet to learn more about program updates.

New USDA Publication: USDA Launches Resource Guide to Help America’s Rural Workforce Build Back Better

Congressional Bills

Largest agrivoltaic research project in U.S. advances renewable energy while empowering local farmers

Case study contributed to Solar Power World by HansenRE.

The global installed capacity of agrivoltaics, or the co-development of the same area of land for both solar power and agriculture, has grown rapidly from about 5 MW in 2012 to approximately 2,900 MW in 2020. One of the largest driving factors for this growth is the need to continue to build solar projects to mitigate climate change in the face of dwindling available non-agricultural land. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), by 2030, utility-scale solar could cover almost 2 million acres of land in the United States. A recent Oregon State University study also estimates that converting just 1% of American farmland to agrivoltaics would not only meet the nation’s renewable energy targets, but also save water and create a sustainable, long-term food system. Additionally, agrivoltaics have been shown to increase crop production, solar panel efficiency as well as farmer income. Continue reading here.

Photo by Byron Kominek, owner of Jack’s Solar Garden in Boulder, Colorado: A beehive operated by Best Bees and sponsored by Google located at Jack’s Solar Garden. Best Bees installs and maintains honeybee hives on commercial and residential properties across the U.S. and seeks to improve bee health and expand bee populations.

Regenerative AG: Moving Beyond Practices

Great Plains Regeneration’s Farmer Friday Webinar
May 28th at 12pm

Featuring: Darrin Unruh of Pretty Prairie, Kansas & Tom Cannon of Blackwell, Oklahoma. The presenters will dig deep into regenerative farming practices for long-term soil health solutions like cover crop best practices and advanced use, integration of livestock into cropping systems, heirloom grain production, and new market development. Moderated by Jess Gnad, Executive Director Great Plains Regeneration.

Join here.

Wind energy company studying Jefferson County for possible wind farm

By Michael Shively, News Channel Nebraska

FAIRBURY, NE — A major renewable energy company is studying to see if Jefferson County would be a good spot for a new wind farm.The Jefferson County Commissioners voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve a special use permit for Big Blue Nebraska Wind LLC to build a meteorological tower. The tower will be built about two miles northwest of Harbine. Big Blue Nebraska Wind LLC is owned by NextEra Energy . . . Continue reading here.

Photo: NextEra Energy’s Sholes Wind Farm in Wayne County, Nebraska

NextEra’s Nebraska Projects Also Include: 

Of Potential Interest To High School Teachers & Students

 NEW REGENERATIVE AG ORGANIZATION 

Jessica Gnad“a dedicated soil health advocate with more than a decade of experience in the food, finance, and farming industries,” heads up Great Plains Regeneration, a new alliance made up of farmers, ranchers and academics from Kansas and neighboring states. The organization’s leaders also include two Nebraskans: Graham Christensen, from Oakland, who serves on the board of directors, and Trey Blackhawk, from Winnebago, a member of the advisory board. Great Plains Regeneration’s current initiatives include: farmer/rancher-led education, watershed regeneration, regional marketplace development.

Visit Great Plains Regeneration for more information.

VILSACK ADDRESSES RECENT FALSE CLAIMS ABOUT BIDEN’S CLIMATE ACTION PLANS

USDA chief Tom Vilsack says climate plans won’t involve a leaner meat diet, land seizures, Omaha World-Herald

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration will not use eminent domain to take farm or ranch property out of production to meet its climate goal of conserving 30% of U.S. land and water by 2030, nor will it try to restrict people’s meat consumption, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Monday.

Additional Recommended Reading
USDA: 100 Days Update
Here is a summary of USDA’s work over these past 100 Days of the Biden-Harris Administration and a look at what is ahead.

Carbon market farming bill introduced in Congress

By David Murry, High Plains Journal

A bill that, if passed, would give the U.S. Department of Agriculture authority to lay the groundwork and set standards for a “carbon farming” market was introduced in Congress April 20. The U.S. Senate Ag Committee planned to take up the Growing Climate Solutions Act April 22 during a committee hearing to coincide with Earth Day.

The bill was originally introduced last June but has since been refined and reworked after input from Republicans. Its title says its purpose is “to authorize the Secretary of Agriculture to develop a program to reduce barriers to entry for farmers, ranchers, and private forest landowners in certain private markets, and for other purposes.” Read more here.

Photo Credit: USDA

Additional Recommended Reading

Featured USDA Resource

Northern Plains Climate Hub
The Northern Plains Climate Hub serves Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska, South Dakota, and North Dakota. The Hub delivers science-based knowledge, practical information, management & conservation strategies, and decision tools to farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners with the goal of helping them adapt to weather variability and changing climatic conditions.

More Nebraska Resources

Additional National Legislation: The Agriculture Resilience Act 

Agriculture Resilience Act a Thoughtful, Nuanced Approach to Climate Action, National Farmers Union News Release

“While the window is still open, we must take every possible opportunity to adapt to our changing climate and limit its impact. One key piece of the puzzle is the agriculture sector, which can not only work to reduce its own greenhouse gas emissions, but it can also offset other sectors’ emissions by sequestering carbon in the soil – a fact that the Agriculture Resilience Act recognizes and seeks to put into action. This thoughtful and nuanced bill would strategically further climate initiatives across USDA programs in an effort to provide farmers with the tools, resources, and assistance they need to implement climate-smart practices.” – NFU President Rob Larew

National Farmers Union
National Farmers Union advocates on behalf of nearly 200,000 American farm families and their communities. We envision a world in which farm families and their communities are respected, valued, and enjoy economic prosperity and social justice.

Nebraska Farmers Union
Founded in 1913, Nebraska Farmers Union is dedicated to protecting and enhancing the quality of life and economic well-being of family farmers and ranchers, and their rural communities. As Nebraska’s second largest family farm and ranch ag organization with over 4,000 family farm and ranch families as members, Nebraska Farmers Union is dedicated to the farm income issues which matter most to rural families. With active members across the state, Farmers Union is one of Nebraska’s oldest and strongest grassroots organizations.

Climate Bill Would Expand USDA Stewardship Program

By Chuck Abbott, Successful Farming

The USDA would double the size of the Conservation Reserve, the government’s largest land-idling program, as part of supporting land stewardship on 100 million acres of farmland under companion bills filed in the House and Senate on Monday. Democrats Sen. Cory Booker and Rep. Abigail Spanberger, the sponsors, compared the legislation to New Deal programs to help farmers and combat soil loss during the Dust Bowl.

“The Climate Stewardship Act is a critical investment to seriously engage farmers, ranchers, and rural communities as part of the solution to climate change,” said Booker, who filed a version of the bill in 2019. Spanberger, who chairs the House Agriculture subcommittee on conservation, said she was “committed to finding new ways to both protect the health of our soil and benefit farmers’ bottom lines.” Continue reading here.

The Climate Stewardship Act (PDF)

Sec.108 Rural Energy for America Program

  • Increases funding from $50M to $3 billion per year to provide grants and loan guarantees for tens of thousands of farmers, ranchers and rural businesses to expand renewable energy production and make energy efficiency improvements.
  • Gives funding priority to solar projects that include pollinator habitat.
  • Sets aside 5% of the additional funding for socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.
  • Sets aside 5% of the funding for new and beginning farmers and ranchers.

USDA Agency Launches New Site for Science-Minded Students, USDA News Release

AgLab, a new science-education website operated by USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, is now “open for business” to students and educators alike. 

Geared toward K-12 students with an interest in food and science, AgLab offers a variety of content to promote a greater understanding of how agricultural research is helping meet the food, fiber, feed and fuel needs of a growing world population while also safeguarding our environment and natural resources.

USDA Seeks Public Input to Help Create a New Rural Renewable Energy Pilot Program

WASHINGTON, April 1, 2021 — Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it is requesting public input from interested parties, including potential customers and interested stakeholders, to help create a new Rural Renewable Energy Pilot Program. To ensure a diverse group of voices are heard, USDA is seeking written comments and will host a public listening session on April 22, 2021.

“When we invest in creating new sources of renewable energy, we invest in rebuilding the middle class by creating good-paying jobs in rural America,” USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Justin Maxson said. “To meet this goal, we must put rural communities at the heart of climate action and climate-smart solutions, and that begins with getting feedback from a broad, diverse set of voices from the start.” Continue reading here.

For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov. If you’d like to subscribe to USDA Rural Development updates, visit our GovDelivery subscriber page

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

FOOD AND AGRICULTURE CLIMATE ALLIANCE REPORT

Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance Expands Membership, Drills Down on Policy Recommendations, National Farmers Union News Release

[In February] the Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance (FACA) announced expanding membership and new policy working groups focused on developing a set of more specific policy proposals that drill down on the 40+ recommendations released by FACA in November 2020. FACA’s eight founding members — American Farm Bureau Federation (co-chair), Environmental Defense Fund (co-chair), FMI – The Food Industry Association, National Alliance of Forest Owners, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (co-chair), National Farmers Union (co-chair) and The Nature Conservancy — welcomed 14 new groups to the Steering Committee. FACA’s original 40+ recommendations cover six areas of focus: soil health, livestock and dairy, forests and wood products, energy, research, and food loss and waste. They are outlined in a 50-page report [PDF] and summarized in a hand-out [PDF].

UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA-LINCOLN NEWS & RESOURCES

ENVIRONMENTAL ENTREPRENEURS REGENERATIVE AG REPORT

Healthy Soils and the Climate Connection: A Path to Economic Recovery on America’s Farms
 provides a roadmap for how climate-smart agriculture policies could provide profit boosts for farmers and climate wins for advocates.

Most initiatives to fight climate change today focus on reducing fossil fuel emissions from electricity generation, transportation, and buildings. But to avoid the worst impacts of climate change we must also significantly reduce the atmospheric carbon that has already been emitted. While efforts are underway to develop new and high tech mechanisms to accomplish this, there is an immediately available and economically viable pathway for atmospheric carbon removal—one that provides a compelling new value proposition for farmers to revitalize their soils and get paid for doing it.

E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs) is a national, nonpartisan group of business leaders, investors, and professionals from every sector of the economy who advocate for smart policies that are good for the economy and good for the environment. Our members have founded or funded more than 2,500 companies, created more than 600,000 jobs, and manage more than $100 billion in venture and private equity capital.

Previously Posted
Biden to Engage Farmers & Build Climate Resilience, NRDC
What Biden’s Climate Plan Means For Regenerative Ag, Rodale Institute

Buyer’s Guides
A Buyer’s Guide To Regenerative Food, Rodale Institute
RegeNErate Nebraska Resource Guide

Recommended Books 

 

Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land, by Leah Penniman

 

 

 

Dirt to Soil: One Family’s Journey into Regenerative Farming, by Gabe Brown

Is Solar Energy an Option for Your Farm?

By Taylor Leach, Agweb, Powered By The Farm Journal

During the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin 2021 Business Conference, Adam Wehling, Dean of Agriculture, Energy and Transportation at Chippewa Valley Technical College, spoke on how to easily incorporate a solar energy system onto your ag operation. According to Wehling, these systems can be easily integrated into your existing facilities, can improve the efficiency of the systems you currently have and can reduce your overall energy cost. Factors to Consider: Continue reading here.

Photo: Don Gasper’s Farm Near Lindsay, Nebraska. See Solar Examples for more solar projects on local farms. 

SOLAR WATER PUMPS

An equitable and reliable solar power grid for farmers, by Praveen Jain, IEEE Medal in Power Engineering recipient, Solar Power World

Born in rural India and being at the global forefront of technology over the past 40 years, I can say with certainty that farmers in many countries are not seeing the true benefits of solar power. Possibly the biggest and best benefit of solar power for farmers is solar water pumps used for irrigation. Powered by sunlight that is harvested through photovoltaic (PV) panels, solar pumps boost crop yield, promote efficient water use and reduce power consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Off-season, these solar installations can feed power to the local grid, providing extra income for farmers.

REGENERATIVE FARMING

U.S. FARMERS & RANCHERS IN ACTION REPORT

Transformative Investment in Climate-Smart Agriculture Unlocking the potential of our soils to help the U.S. achieve a net-zero economy

This report focuses on six established practices: 1) no-till/reduced tillage with retained residues, 2) cover crops, 3) crop rotation, 4) compost application 5) managed grazing, and 6) integrated crop and livestock systems—all of which improve soil health, sequester carbon and produce numerous co-benefits such as reduced erosion, increased water infiltration, and economic and environmental resiliency. With technology and financial innovation targeted at specific practice adoption barriers, these benefits will accrue on the farm, throughout rural America and the agriculture value chain, and the nation as a whole.

PACE

Spotlight on PACE: PACE Projects From Downtown Redevelopments to Dairy Farms,  National Law Review

Before taking a look at some of the ways the market has used PACE over the last few years, here’s a synopsis of just what exactly PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) is.

Links to PACE Resources

 

 

 

Nebraska passed PACE-enabling legislation in 2016.

INNOVATIVE VIRGINIA PROGRAM

In Virginia, solar ‘barn raisings’ bring power to families in need, by Elizabeth McGowan, Energy News Network

A pair of Shenandoah Valley nonprofits have launched a fund to cover the upfront cost of outfitting Habitat for Humanity homes with photovoltaic panels that help put a dent in homeowners’ utility bills.

ALSO OF POTENTIAL INTEREST

Sustainability in Agriculture

American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF)

America’s farmers and ranchers are leading the way in climate-smart practices that reduce emissions, enrich the soil and protect our water and air, all while producing more food, fiber and renewable fuel than ever before. U.S. agriculture contributes just 10% to overall GHG emissions, far less than other major industries, and plays an active role in enhancing wildlife and absorbing carbon. At Farm Bureau, we are proud of agriculture’s sustainability story, and we believe the future of agriculture is bright as we work together to further climate-smart solutions that protect our resources, farms and communities. See AFBF Resources Here.

Quick Links to Resources By Topic

To chart the course ahead with recommendations to achieve climate goals through voluntary, market-driven programs, AFBF co-founded the Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance.

 


To showcase the tremendous progress farmers and ranchers have made in achieving sustainability goals, AFBF co-founded
 Farmers for a Sustainable Future.