Resources for climate-smart agriculture
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What will it take to overcome the power of trillions of dollars of sunk costs in the current structure of agriculture? In the closing keynote of the 2022 Perennial Farm Gathering in December, Dr. Ricardo Salvador addressed this question and more. Listen along as Dr. Salvador offers a helpful roadmap for navigating the coming Farm Bill.
Historically, US conservation programs undervalue the ecological benefits that perennial systems offer. Perennial farmers want a level field and a safety net like annual crop farmers receive. Some key facts to consider:
- The USDA’s largest working lands program, EQIP, provided almost $1.4 billion in financial assistance to farm operations for conservation practices in FY2018, but less than .05% of that amount went to two of the most important perennial production practices, silvopasture and alley cropping. Other agroforestry practices receive even less investment.
- Federal policy currently incentivizes annual crops over perennial crops, leaving perennial farmers with fewer supports. Crop insurance is meant to be available for over 100 crops. However in 2020, 94% of payments went towards only 6 commodities.
- The groundwork is laid for broader uptake of agroforestry. While U.S. area in agroforestry systems is modest today, 25-50% of national cropland and 10-28% of national grazing land are considered suitable for agroforestry.
Source: Scott, Toensmeier, Iutzi, et al. Policy Pathways for Perennial Agriculture, 2022
Browse the latest
Nate Lawrence and Monika Shea from the Savanna Institute’s research department dig into the details of agroforestry for climate change mitigation.
The Innovative Practices for Soil Health Act seeks to make needed improvements to United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) conservation programs, as well as designate four national and regional agroforestry centers, to ensure these programs can be useful for farmers who want to incorporate perennial systems or agroforestry into their operations.
The Savanna Institute launches Tree Crop Improvement Program to boost Midwestern farm profitability, sustainability
$12.7 million in grants from the Grantham Environmental Trust and the Matthew Zell Family Foundation will fund tree crop breeding to improve varieties for Midwestern farmers who want to diversify their operations with perennial crops
More Community Resources
Agroforestry can shine in the upcoming Farm Bill
February 24, 2023
National Young Farmers Coalition
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
Farm Bill Platform
Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance
Farm Bill Policy Priorities
Intertribal Agriculture Council
Policy and Government Relations
Opportunities to Bolster the 2023 Farm Bill
May 10, 2022
US House Agriculture Committee
Indigenous Food and Agriculture
Native Farm Bill Coalition