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More Farm Groups Now Acknowledge Manmade Climate Change and Are Forming Climate-Smart Plans

The latest example is a partnership between the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research and the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance.

Farmers and farm groups typically have been skeptical about acknowledging manmade climate change. That’s changing, though.

The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) and the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) have formed its Agriculture-Climate Partnership to tap agriculture’s climate-solving potential. Although agriculture contributes 13% of greenhouse gas emissions globally, it also presents an effective solution that can eliminate agriculture's emissions and offset those of other sectors, according to these groups. This effort is stressing climate smart agricultural practices. This will enable farmers and ranchers to:

* Improve resiliency

* Minimize fertilizers and other inputs

* Improve water use and quality

* Improve soil

* Store carbon  

“Climate change is threatening farmers and ranchers' livelihoods and the global food supply,” said Sally Rockey, FFAR's executive director, in a news release. “While there is much research and data on the climate-agriculture intersection, these efforts are fragmented, which slows progress. This partnership will foster collaboration between farmers, ranchers, scientists, and others from across the food and agriculture sectors to address greenhouse gas emissions in a coordinated way, as a united front.”   

This partnership envisions a world where every farmer and rancher uses least one climate-smart solution on every acre of farmland. The goal is for agriculture to be net negative for greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. To do that, FFAR says it is brining top scientific minds in food and agriculture together to develop and test actionable solutions customized by:

* Geography

* Farm type

* Crops

* Livestock and climate

In turn, USFRA is then mobilizing its network of farmers and ranchers to cocreate and deploy climate-smart solutions. The coordination starts in the U.S. and will move internationally, as the World Farmers Organisation (WFO) expands efforts on a global scale.

Other Efforts

These efforts aren’t alone. The National Farmers Union was one of the first farm groups to acknowledge the reality of manmade climate change and help develop ways for farmers to cope

 In November 2018, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) formed the first partnership between an environmental organization and commodity crop association that among other points would help develop climate-resilient methods for farmers. 

Last June, Indigo Ag announced its Terraton Initiative that aims to sequester 1 trillion tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The plan aims to eventually pay farmers in this program $15 to $20 per ton of carbon that they sequester using tools like no-till and cover crops. Payments could tally an estimated $30 to $60 per acre, with the actual amount depending on soil type and the region’s climate, says David Perry, Indigo Ag chief executive officer. 

“I think we can solve climate change flat out with agriculture at the table,” said Erin Fitzgerald, CEO of the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance when Indigo Ag made its announcement. Agricultural practices to sequester greenhouse gasses will differ between farms, though.  

“No two farms are alike, which means the path to climate-smart farming may look a little, or a lot, different from farm to farm,” said Fitzgerald in a news release. “The challenge is accelerating the activation of this potential in soils and simultaneously developing tools and technology that can reduce new emissions while adapting to the rapidly shifting weather patterns that farmers and ranchers are facing year over year. And all of this to be economically and environmentally sustainable.”

FFAR and USFRA have already invested $50 million in projects advancing research efforts to reduce GHG emissions from agriculture and are actively seeking matching funds from outside partners to accelerate and expand the program. The full scope of the anticipated effort is estimated at $200 million.

 While the full scope of the types of climate-smart practices are part of this partnership, examples could include cover crops, no-till and conservation till, variable rate technology, rotational grazing, manure fractionation, split nitrogen application, among others. The groups say the first five years of this partnership is crucial, for both the sustainability of farms and the potential to build the framework and multiply the reach.

Over time, the partnership will lead to the creation of a Climate Smart Activation Platform that will provide practical, environmentally and economically sustainable solutions that farmers can use to:

* Refine and incorporate their climate-smart practices and technology

* Build resiliency

* Contribute to agriculture being net negative for greenhouse gas emissions

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