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
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Spring Green, WI: On Monday, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its latest report, issuing what UN Secretary-General António Guterres described as a “clarion call to massively fast-track climate efforts by every country and every sector and on every timeframe.” The report, dubbed a ‘survival guide for humanity,’ underscores the urgency for local and global leaders to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, and forecasted an overshoot of the goal as early as 2030 if major course corrections are not taken. The Savanna Institute, a Wisconsin-based nonprofit working to transition Midwest agriculture to a climate solution, issued the following statement.
When you talk with someone who’s familiar with agroforestry in the Midwest, the name “Mark Shepard'' usually comes up pretty quickly. Mark’s book Restoration Agriculture was published ten years ago this year, and through his book and his speaking appearances, Mark has...
This essay was recently published by staff member Bill Davison on his blog, Easy by Nature. I reached out to municipal officials in my hometown in the fall of 2015 to propose that we work together to establish a food forest in a town park. I was inspired by the...
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