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Evening Edition | Thursday, September 1, 2022

In this Evening Edition, read about young Texas farmer Alisha Schwertner, benefits of bison on tallgrass prairie, and why voluntary efforts to reduce the effects of climate change are most effective.

Farmer for the Future

Editor Natalina Sents Bausch writes about Alisha Schwertner's many roles, which include wife, mother, farmer, certified crop advisor, and more.

Ensuring her sons have opportunities in agriculture drives her long-term goals.

“I have three boys at home who love the operation, and I believe that in order to protect their future, I have to be involved. Being a young woman in agriculture, it’s important to me that I set the precedent that we can do hard things if we have purpose and with some help from our tribes. My boys and our family operation are my ‘why,’” she says.

Benefits of Bison

Decades of research led by scientists at Kansas State University offered evidence reintroducing bison to roam the tallgrass prairie gradually doubled plant diversity and improved resilience to extreme drought.

“Our results suggest that many grasslands in the central Great Plains have substantially lower plant biodiversity than would have occurred before bison were widely wiped out,” Ratajczak said. “Returning or ‘rewilding’ native megafauna could help to restore grassland biodiversity.”

The study confirmed cattle had a positive impact on plant diversity, compared to having no large grazers present.

Voluntary Agricultural Practices

The more than $1 billion the federal government is devoting to voluntary efforts to reduce agriculture’s adverse effects on the environment is a better long-term strategy than mandating new rules for farmers, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said Tuesday.

While state and federal officials in the United States have tended to avoid implementing rules that might force farmers to radically change their long-held practices, the European Union has specific requirements about crop rotations, permanent pastures and the use of buffer strips and other conservation practices that improve soil quality.

“Candidly, our view — and I’ve expressed this to EU officials — our view is that their approach may very well result in reduced production,” says Vilsack.

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