POLICY NEED TO KNOW

Top ten policy items you need to know

Need to brush up on your policy knowledge surrounding Carbon, Climate Change and Regenerative Agriculture? We've got you covered. Check out these top issues and follow how policy develops around them.

 

 

1. The French are the world leaders when it comes to soil carbon policy. In 2015, at UN COP 21, they launched the international initiative "4 per 1000", a policy which consists of federating all voluntary stakeholders of the public and private sectors (national governments, local and regional governments, companies, trade organizations, NGOs, research facilities, etc.) under the framework of the Lima-Paris Action Plan (LPAP). The aim of the initiative is to demonstrate that agriculture, and in particular agricultural soils can play a crucial role where food security and climate change are concerned. Supported by solid scientific documentation, this initiative invites all partners to state or implement some practical actions on soil carbon storage and the type of practices to achieve this (e.g. agroecology, agroforestry, conservation agriculture, landscape management, etc.). The ambition of the initiative is to encourage stakeholders to transition towards a productive, highly resilient agriculture, based on the appropriate management of lands and soils, creating jobs and incomes hence ensuring sustainable development. The Executive Secretariat of the "4 per 1000" initiative is hosted by the CGIAR System Organization, an international organization based in Montpellier.

 

     4 Per 1000 Website

     Official Policy Announcement

     French Government Press Release

 

 

2. California is leading the way in soil policy.  Read about their Healthy Soils Program, as well as the efforts of other states:

 

     California: https://www.marincarbonproject.org/policy/california-climate-policy-ab32

     California: https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/oefi/healthysoils/

     Washington: https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/publications/publications/1307031.pdf

     Vermont: http://agriculture.vermont.gov/vesp

     Maryland: http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/webmga/frmMain.aspx?pid=billpage&stab=01&id=HB1063&tab=subject3&ys=2017RS

 

 

 

 

3. Assembly member Didi Barrett (D - Columbia, Dutchess) announced the passage of landmark legislation to create a two year soil health project promoting environmentally friendly practices known as carbon farming. The bill creates a pilot project in Columbia and Dutchess counties to be administered by the local Soil and Water Conservation Districts. The legislation is a milestone in carbon farming nationally and will result in important data about the potential for a range of farming practices to sequester carbon in the soil and will help farmers improve soil resiliency and productivity on their farms.

 

     Read More: http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/Didi-Barrett/story/82223

 

 

4. In the US, the National Resources Conservation Services lead soil carbon and land conservation

initiatives. They protect our waters and soils by: a) easements and their conservation reserve program and b) through their financial and technical assistance to farmers. This important department has been under threat, and is especially at risk now. You can support them in two ways:

 

     • Contact your local Representative and write letters to the Agricultural Commissioner

     • Support your local NRCS office by becoming a Committee member

 

     Links:

     NRCS

     Conservation Reserve Program

 

 

5. From weather to pests, and from a lack of time to markets, each American farmer faces a unique set of challenges. The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) helps agricultural producers confront those challenges – all while conserving natural resources like soil, water and air. EQIP is a program through which the NCRS disperses funds; they support key small farmers with measures that mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, such as no-till drilling, seeding pastures, fencing, livestock equipment and assets.

 

 

6. The Ogallala Aquifer is a vast geologic formation that sprawls underneath parts of eight states from South Dakota to Texas. Quick facts:

 

     • If spread across the U.S., the aquifer would cover all 50 states with 1.5 feet of water

     • If drained, it would take more than 6,000 years to refill naturally

     • More than 90 percent of the water pumped is used to irrigate crops

     • $20 billion a year in food and fiber depend on the aquifer

 

This massive underground water source feeds the middle third of the country but is disappearing fast. Learn more at Scientific America and Water Encyclopedia.

 

 

7. Every summer, the Gulf of Mexico is flooded with excess nitrogen and phosphorus from wastewater treatment plants and farm fields along the Mississippi River basin. And every summer, those nutrients create a “dead zone” in the Gulf. To address the issue, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency formed a task force and required 12 states to develop strategies to reduce agricultural runoff. Make yourself aware through these resources:

 

     Article Beyond the nutrient strategies: Common ground to accelerate agricultural water quality improvement in the upper Midwest

 

     EPA Report to Congress

 

 

8. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is a large government agency just starting to partner with land managers and various other state and federal agencies to prevent desertification, eliminate invasive species and revive grasslands. Here are some success stories.

 


9. The Federal Government plays an extremely significant role in how land is used in the U.S. The government owns about 640 million acres of surface and sub-surface land, about 28% of the total land area of the United States, 155 million of which is dedicated to permitted livestock grazing.  The government also spends billions of dollars every year to subsidize the production of a small number of commodity crops. As citizens, we all must educate ourselves on how government policies influence how US agricultural land is managed.

 

     Links:

     How land is used in the US

     Article on subsidies

     More Subsidies Info: Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) & Price Loss Coverage (PLC)

     Crop Insurance Policy Overview

     Farm Subsidies Database

     Rangeland and Forest policy

 

 

10. Water Quality Credit Trading is a market-based approach to mitigate the pollution of our waterways, through which farmers can be compensated for management practices that improve water quality. Learn more at:

 

     American Farmland Trust

     EPA NPDES WQ Credit Trading FAQ’s

 

 

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