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Day workers by Linnaea Mallette from publicdomainpictures.net

New report on climate impacts in SoCal makes urgent case for agricultural climate adaptation tools bill

by Brian Shobe, CalCAN


Highlights

  • A new study by the California Department of Food and Agriculture and Climate Science Alliance emphasizes the need for climate adaptation tools and training for farmers due to climate impacts
  • Assembly Bill 1071, the Agricultural Climate Adaptation Tools Bill, would provide the tools and training needed in order for farmers to prosper as the climate crisis threatens their livelihoods 
  • Farmers are lacking critical information and climate data, hindering their ability to adapt their production methods to the changing climate, jeopardizing the state’s future crops
  • Land that typically can grow an abundance of fruits like strawberries and avocadoes may lose this ability and result in a nearly 50% reduction of fertile land for these crops
  • Unless we combat the climate crisis and begin to draw down carbon emissions, our food production will be severely impacted
  • Chris Field and David Lobell, authors of the 2019 Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment Research Brief on Climate Adaptation and Agriculture notes that our crops will not grow on the same land if we don’t save our climate:

“…prime agricultural areas of California – as well as similar regions across the United States that are currently favorable to specific perennial crops – may become unfavorable during the lifespan of a single orchard or vineyard.”


Accelerating sequestration is critical to achieving drawdown greater than emissions by 2030 for a climate-safe future. We know today how to manage natural and agricultural lands for sequestration through proven carbon farming practices.


Read More: https://calclimateag.org/new-report-on-climate-impacts-in-socal-makes-urgent-case-for-agricultural-climate-adaptation-tools-bill/

cows

US rivers and lakes are shrinking for a surprising reason: cows

by Troy Farah, The Guardian


Highlights

  • Growing crops in order to feed cows has been identified as a major cause of water shortages, according to a new analysis in Nature
  • Cattle fed crops used for beef and dairy account for 23% of all water consumption while agriculture accounts for 92% of freshwater use globally
  • It takes nearly 450 gallons of water per quarter pound of beef
  • Major metropolitan cities on the U.S. West Coast consume the most water-intensive beef and dairy products 
  • The U.S. experiences an increased risk of fish extinction due to draining water tables and toxic runoff into rivers and dried up streams
  • Brian Richter, the study’s lead author, proposed letting farmland sit idle, also known as fallowing, in order to save water 
  • Straying away from water-intensive beef and dairy operations can play a role in saving water and reducing greenhouse gas emissions

The Climate Center’s Climate-Safe California Platform includes carbon sequestration through building healthy soils by working with nature using climate-friendly management and restoration practices in agricultural soils. These practices provide many benefits including helping to conserve water. 


Read More: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jul/02/agriculture-cattle-us-water-shortages-colorado-river

Regenerative agriculture’s climate mitigation potential: a California perspective

from CalCAN


Highlights

  • Changing agricultural practices can allow soils to become regenerative, which can help California reach negative emissions
  • Regenerative Agriculture helps farmers sequester carbon from the atmosphere and bury it deep below ground, directly helping to slow the climate crisis
  • Cap and Trade funds in California help to financially support regenerative ag programs within the state
  •  World Resources Institute (WRI) released a report saying that regenerative agriculture has little actual climate change mitigation potential. However, scientists and case studies around the world prove how effective regenerative ag is for sequestering carbon
  • Public policies that remove regulatory barriers and provide more incentives could create a major transition toward regenerative agriculture in the state
  • Regenerative practices in the Sacramento Valley and Central Valley have demonstrated increased carbon soil stocks
  • To successfully mitigate climate change in the agricultural sector, we need scalable solutions that have positive impacts on farmers, water resources, and soil health

Accelerating sequestration is critical to achieving drawdown greater than emissions by 2030 for a climate-safe future. We know today how to manage natural and agricultural lands for sequestration through proven carbon farming practices.


Read More: https://calclimateag.org/regenerative-agricultures-climate-mitigation-potential-a-california-perspective/

Farmers in Rockingham County, Virginia check the results of no-till farming in their fields on September 9, 2008, as part of their participation in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative (CBWI).

Climate mitigation potential of regenerative agriculture is significant

from Tropical Agriculture Association


Highlights

  • A group of scientists from the Regenerative Agriculture Foundation rebuked a recent report published by the World Resources Institute that claimed regenerative agriculture and carbon sequestration provided little to no benefits for climate change mitigation
  • The Regenerative Agriculture Foundation states that regenerative agriculture creates healthy soils and reduces carbon dioxide levels by way of sequestration, as proved by science
  • The paper explains that our agricultural landscapes must also work to mitigate the climate crisis
  • Though sequestration will not be the sole solution to the climate crisis, its benefits are needed along with other solutions in order to make an impact

Implementing bold and equitable policies that will catalyze carbon sequestration through building healthy soils and restoring healthy habitats will be key to achieving drawdown greater than emissions (net-negative emissions) by 2030 for a climate-safe California.


Read more: https://taa.org.uk/climate-mitigation-potential-of-regenerative-agriculture-is-significant/

Photo by Karen Preuss

Cap-and-trade is failing to provide adequate funding to California farmers

by Nicole Pollock, Inside Climate News


Highlights

  • Due to a decrease in revenue from California’s cap and trade program, many agriculture-based climate programs may receive funding cuts or no funding at all
  • The cap and trade program typically makes $600 million and $800 million from major polluters in the state through allowance auctions, but due to the economic downturn of the COVID-19 pandemic, only $25 million in revenue was reported for the most recent auction
  • Auction revenues help fund dozens of programs and initiatives that advance water efficiency, healthy soils, and emissions reductions in the agricultural sector
  • If funding continues to dwindle, many of these programs will receive no funding in the upcoming budget
  • Beginning January 2021, money from cap and trade auctions will not be required to fund climate-specific programs
  • Programs in funding jeopardy include the Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation (SALC) program, which helped link the climate crisis with farmland use

California’s cap and trade program is not meeting the emissions reductions we need for a climate-safe future. To achieve rapid decarbonization, California should pursue climate funding mechanisms that support climate justice efforts and carbon sequestration programs for the agriculture sector. 


Read More: https://insideclimatenews.org/news/25062020/california-farmers-coronavirus-emissions-climate-change

Photo by IFPRI -IMAGES

Soil professor receives $250k prize for helping farmers fight climate change

by Jessica Craig, NPR


Highlights

Rattan Lal, professor and director of the Carbon Management and Sequestration Center at Ohio State University, has been recently named the 2020 World Food Prize Laureate for his research on healthy soils.

  • Lal has been the champion of farming techniques that keep and add nutrients in the soil and his “soil-centric” methods help prevent deforestation, mitigate climate change, and increase biodiversity
  • Important nutrients such as carbon, nitrogen, and hydrogen are key to healthy soils, but erosion and unsustainable farming practices have stripped soils of these nutrients
  • About one-third of the world’s soil has been degraded, according to the United Nations
  • Carbon sequestration from conservation agriculture and land restoration could remove 2-3 billion tons of carbon dioxide, offsetting 15% of global carbon emissions
  • Currently, a little over a quarter of farmers practice some version of no-till and crop cover agriculture today
    • Farmers would have to invest in planting seeds that would not be harvested and sold, putting them at a loss
  • Lal advocates for governments to fund farmers of “ecosystem services” such as producing healthy soils with sustainable farming practices
    • This payment would be $16 per acre a year, totaling $64 billion globally

Implementing bold and equitable policies that will catalyze carbon sequestration through building healthy soils and restoring healthy habitats will be key to achieving drawdown greater than emissions (net-negative emissions) by 2030 for a climate-safe California.


Read More: https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2020/06/22/880932230/soil-prof-hits-pay-dirt-250k-prize-for-helping-farmers-fighting-climate-change

COVID, the California legislature, and climate policy for healthy soils

by Renata Brillinger, CalCAN


Highlights

The coronavirus pandemic is affecting farmworkers, food system resilience, and climate change impacts.

  • The legislative session will be more constricted and fewer bills will be advance, but partners such as the California Climate and Agricultural Network will continue to work for healthy soils initiatives.
  • Two bills are key: AB 1071 (agriculture adaptation tools bill) and AB 2482 (bill to reform the water efficiency programs). These bills are sponsored by CalCAN.
  • A record amount of money is available through the Healthy Soils Program this year ($25 million). This program offers producers incentives to adopt GHG-reducing soil health practices.
  • The Agriculture Resilience Act (Rep. Pingree, D-ME), recently introduced in Congress, lays out a path to net-zero emissions and enhanced resilience in the U.S. agriculture sector. 

Implementing bold and equitable policies that will catalyze carbon sequestration through building healthy soils and restoring healthy habitats will be key to achieving carbon neutrality by 2030 and net negative emissions by 2035 for a climate-safe California.


Read More: http://calclimateag.org/covid-the-california-legislature-and-climate-policy/

Todd and Arliss Nielsen inspect their ryegrass cover crop in Wright County, Iowa. USDA photo.

Cargill-led fund to pay U.S. farmers for carbon capture, exchange credits

by Karl Plume, Reuters


Highlights

Cargill Inc is paying farmers to sequester carbon in their soils and prevent fertilizer runoff, becoming the first effort to monetize environmentally friendly farming practices. 

  • The Soil & Water Outcomes Fund, a partnership with the Iowa Soybean Association and third-party verification company Quantified Ventures, will sell the environmental credits created through the fund to polluters such as cities and companies, including Cargill itself
  • The program is welcomed by farmers who have been financially struggling after last year’s trade war and from economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Iowa is the first state to pilot the program and farmers have enrolled almost 10,000 acres and are expecting to profit $30 to $45 per acre
  • Cargill estimates the practices would prevent runoff of 100,000 pounds of nitrogen and 10,000 pounds of phosphorus this year and sequester 7,500 tons of carbon in soils

Implementing bold and equitable policies that will catalyze carbon sequestration through building healthy soils and restoring healthy habitats will be key to achieving carbon neutrality by 2030 and net negative emissions by 2035 for a climate-safe California.


Read more: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-cargill-farming-climatechange/cargill-led-fund-to-pay-u-s-farmers-for-carbon-capture-exchange-credits-idUSKCN21R1GE

Farmers in Rockingham County, Virginia check the results of no-till farming in their fields on September 9, 2008, as part of their participation in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative (CBWI).

CCOF releases roadmap to an organic California policy report

by California Certified Organic Farmers


Highlights:

California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) recently released a Roadmap to an Organic California policy report.  The report highlights the personal and environmental health benefits of adopting 100% organic farming practices:

  • Benefits of organic farming include:
    • Sequestration – organic farming removes 14 times more CO2 from the atmosphere compared to non-organic farming 
    • Building healthy soils that can absorb more water and therefore prevent water pollution- There are millions of microorganisms beneath organic fields hard at work storing carbon in the soil
    • Supporting local farmers and boosting the local economy by providing jobs and keeping the money local
    • Organic produce provides higher levels of nutrients which promote human health and resilience
  • Organic farming helps build climate resilience:
    • Non-organic farms tend to be carbon emitters, while organic farms are carbon sinks
    • The increase of soil organic matter (SOM) creates healthier soil and increased water retention, helping farms produce higher yields under drought conditions by accessing water stored in soils
    • These farms have a reduced reliance on fossil fuel-based pesticides
    • Healthy soils are critical to climate change mitigation with the world’s soils capturing up to 25 percent of annual fossil fuel emissions

Implementing bold and equitable policies that will catalyze carbon sequestration through building healthy soils and restoring healthy habitats will be key to achieving carbon neutrality by 2030 and net negative emissions by 2035. Help The Climate Center reach this goal by endorsing the Climate-Safe California Platform


Read More: https://ccof.org/sites/default/files/CCOF-RoadmapPolicy-Report%20Final.pdf

Diverse coalition calls on legislature to restore climate smart agriculture funding

by Jeanne Merrill, CalCAN


Highlights

Governor Newsom’s budget proposal includes various bonds relating to the climate, but cuts funding for healthy soils and other agricultural-based climate programs.

  • The main critique of the proposed budget is that it doesn’t do enough to address real climate solutions and is not generous enough to the agriculture sector
  • One of the climate-based funds is the Climate Resilience Bond, which would allocate almost $5 billion towards weather resiliency, but focuses on “water-related activities”
  • The other is the Climate Catalyst Fund, which has received criticism from various groups because it may fund risky projects that do not actually reduce emissions 
  • Though agricultural land accounts for a quarter of the state and is also responsible for 8 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in California, only $200 million is proposed in the budget for agriculture investments and doesn’t include a sufficient strategy

The Climate Center advocates for policies to fund and support carbon sequestration through healthy soils to achieve greenhouse gas emissions reductions at the speed and scale required by the science.


Read more: http://calclimateag.org/diverse-coalition-calls-on-legislature-to-restore-climate-smart-agriculture-funding/