Tag Archives: carbon sequestration through regenerative agriculture

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.

Ag Leaders Unite Around Racial Equity and Climate Progress

By David Wallinga, MD and Allison Johnson,
Natural Resources Defense Council

Leaders in the Senate and House Agriculture Committees sent a clear message last week: they are committed to righting racist policies that have denied farmers of color their lands and a farming livelihood, and to ensuring as well that small, diversified farms have the tools they need to survive, now and into the future. Continue reading here.

Previously Posted: Biden to Engage Farmers & Build Climate Resilience, by Allison Johnson and Claire O’Connor, NRDC

NRDC’s Regenerative Agriculture Series

Regenerative Agriculture Part 4: The Benefits, by Arohi Sharma, Lara Bryant, Ellen Lee, Claire O’Connor

This is the last installment of our regenerative agriculture blog series. The first blog introduced the philosophy of regenerative agriculture, the second blog covered its principles, the third blog delved into regenerative practices, and this one describes the benefits of regenerative agriculture.

Additional Recommended Reading 

What Biden’s Climate Plan Means For Regenerative Ag, Rodale Institute

Buyer’s Guides

Books 

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

In 1920, 14 percent of all land-owning US farmers were black. Today less than 2 percent of farms are controlled by black people—a loss of over 14 million acres and the result of discrimination and dispossession. While farm management is among the whitest of professions, farm labor is predominantly brown and exploited, and people of color disproportionately live in “food apartheid” neighborhoods and suffer from diet-related illness. The system is built on stolen land and stolen labor and needs a redesign.

Farming While Black is the first comprehensive “how to” guide for aspiring African-heritage growers to reclaim their dignity as agriculturists and for all farmers to understand the distinct, technical contributions of African-heritage people to sustainable agriculture. At Soul Fire Farm, author Leah Penniman co-created the Black and Latinx Farmers Immersion (BLFI) program as a container for new farmers to share growing skills in a culturally relevant and supportive environment led by people of color. Farming While Black organizes and expands upon the curriculum of the BLFI to provide readers with a concise guide to all aspects of small-scale farming, from business planning to preserving the harvest. – Chelsea Green Publishing

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

Gabe Brown didn’t set out to change the world when he first started working alongside his father-in-law on the family farm in North Dakota. But as a series of weather-related crop disasters put Brown and his wife, Shelly, in desperate financial straits, they started making bold changes to their farm. Brown—in an effort to simply survive—began experimenting with new practices he’d learned about from reading and talking with innovative researchers and ranchers. As he and his family struggled to keep the farm viable, they found themselves on an amazing journey into a new type of farming: regenerative agriculture. – Chelsea Green Publishing.

See Gabe Brown in the documentary, Kiss the Ground. 

Project Supports Nebraska Regenerative Agriculture

Drovers Magazine

The Nature Conservancy, McDonald’s, Cargill and Target are coming together to launch a new five-year, $8.5 million project aimed at working with Nebraska farmers to advance proven soil health practices to help mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and help farmers adapt to climate change. Overall, this effort has the potential to sequester 150,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide over the course of the project – equivalent to removing over 32,000 cars from the road in one year.

Nebraska is one of the top states for U.S. beef production and among the top three states for corn production, a key ingredient for cattle feed. This project will work with interested farmers to reach 100,000 acres of land and provide them with the technical and financial assistance to scale the implementation of regenerative soil health practices, including cover cropping, reduced tillage and diversified crop rotation. As an Ecosystem Services Market Consortium pilot, the program works to connect farmers to private sector payments for societal climate and water benefits. Read more here.

Image Credit: Bruce Knight / SlideShare

Additional Recommended Reading

Cover crop usage increases by 50%, Scottsbluff Star-Herald
According to the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SARE) 2020 National Cover Crop Survey, American farmers have increased their cover crop acreage by approximately 50%, an increase from an estimated 10 million acres on 133,500 farms to more than 15 million acres on 153,400 farms between the USDA’s 2012 and 2017 ag census.

Based on survey results from 1,172 farmers located throughout the nation who completed the survey, 93% of respondents reported they have used cover crops and have cover crop experience, while 7% reported they had never used cover crops in their farm system. Of the growers who incorporated cover crops into their management plans, the 2020 National Cover Crop Survey revealed farmers believe cover crops were beneficial to their operation in a number of ways.

Midlands Voices: Together, let’s nurture climate-smart agriculture in Nebraska

By Tom Hoegemeyer, Omaha World-Herald

The writer is a retired professor with the department of agronomy and horticulture at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, writing for the Nebraska Elder Climate Legacy Initiative, founded by Nebraska natural resources specialists.

 Nebraska is a top five food-producing state with the natural resources, human capital and ingenuity to lead this transformation. Farming principles and practices that seek to rehabilitate and enhance the entire ecosystem are being tested. If refined and adopted, they may also increase land productivity and profitability, and build greater resilience to weather extremes. A key component is protecting and improving soil health. Read more here.

Elder Climate Legacy.Org 

Forget moonshots — it’s time now for a global ‘soilshot’ to address climate change

By David Montgomery, Professor of Earth and Space Sciences,
University of Washington. Published by GreenBiz.

What if it were possible to reverse course, regenerate soil organic matter and reduce farmers’ need for diesel fuel and chemical fertilizers made with fossil fuels? This would make it feasible to stash more carbon in the soil and reduce the amount that’s sent skyward in the process of growing food. I saw the potential for regenerative agriculture to restore soil organic matter in both developed and developing countries when I researched Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life, my book about how regenerative farming practices allow farmers to reduce their use of costly fertilizers and pesticides. All the farmers I interviewed shared three things in common. Read more here.

Infographic: How plants sequester carbon A) as they grow and B) after they die. University of Nebraska-LincolnCreative Commons

Additional Recommended Reading

Booklet: Guide to Regenerative Agriculture in Nebraska

The Green New Deal is a chance to make clean energy accessible to all

By Eilie Anzilotti, Fast Company

The changes that the energy sector needs to undergo are one of the most critical components of the Green New Deal. But embedded in the immense challenge of meeting these goals is an opportunity to create a much more sustainable and equitable energy system. It also should spur more research and funding for new energy innovations beyond now-mainstream wind and solar. Transitioning away from fossil fuels, in the context of the Green New Deal, presents an opportunity to increase access to affordable clean energy for all, and create well-paying jobs in renewable energy industries in the process. Read more here.

Flickr Photo

MORE ON DECARBONIZING THE ECONOMY

IN NEBRASKA & THE MIDWEST

  • OPPD Laying The Groundwork For A Bright Energy Future, OPPD News Release
    Initiatives will include a long-term study to address the long-term balance of load generation, along with decarbonization options for the district’s generation mix. Vice President Mary Fisher spoke to the topic, noting that the energy generation landscape is changing rapidly. Fisher said the drivers are primarily improving renewable technology, and environmental considerations around carbon emissions and climate change, “something our customers clearly care about.”
  • A Vision for Midwest Zero-Carbon Power Starts to Take Shape, Natural Resources Defense Council

REGENERATIVE FARMING RESOURCES

Nebraskans talk extreme weather. Just don’t call it climate change.

By Laurent Belsie, The Christian Science Monitor

The severe flooding that inundated Nebraska last month washed away fields, bridges, and roads. But the extreme weather is also starting to sway residents’ thinking about climate.

Part of the change in thought is coming from farmers themselves, especially those involved with the small but growing regenerative farming movement. “Conversations were already happening before the flood,” says Graham Christensen, a fifth-generation farmer and president of GC
Resolve, a grassroots community-development business. “But after the flood a lot more folks are like, ‘Yeah, I have never seen that; my dad has never seen that; my grandpa has never seen that. This is a pattern that’s emerging.’” Read the entire article here.

Photo by Annette Bloom of her Nebraska farm during the recent historic floods.

Nebraska Regenerative Agriculture Resources

As Laurent Belsie states, Graham Christensen is a fifth-generation Nebraska farmer. He also is leading the growing Nebraska
Regenerative Agriculture movement, creating a website and Facebook page, as well as collaborating with many others to develop an online resource guide:
RegeNErate Nebraska Website
RegeNErate Nebraska Facebook
Guide to Regenerative Agriculture in Nebraska (PDF)

Excerpts from the guide: 

Regenerative practices draw down carbon from the atmosphere and sink or sequester it in the ground. Agriculture can be our best chance to removing rising greenhouse gas emissions that exacerbate climate change, rather than being a catalyst of it.

Nebraska is already home to a flourishing network of regenerative farms, and many have joined together under the farmer-owned co-op model, allowing them to pool a wide variety of products and satisfy growing demand. By giving back to the land and water what they take from it, these farmers are finding drastically reduced input costs, and even achieving higher yields.

Nebraska Legislation
LB 243 to create a Healthy Soils Task Force passed April 11, 2019 by a vote of 43 to 0.