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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Agroforestry is a viable natural climate solution that landowners can adopt right now to increase climate-smart agriculture in the region. Planting trees in pasture, along waterways, and in alley cropping systems resonates with many that want to diversify their farm income while addressing climate change and protecting water. The demand has exposed crucial gaps in educational opportunities, state and local agricultural policy, and staff capacity to provide one-on-one support to farmers and landowners seeking to establish agroforestry projects in this region. The Savanna Institute is working to fill those gaps in Illinois and across the Midwestern US.
A few months ago, one of my coworkers asked me if I knew anything about solar grazing. She said that with all of the solar farms going in, it seemed like a major opportunity to get grazing animals back on the landscape. I said that I didn’t know much about it, but...
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.
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