FARMING

FARMING


The Earth's average surface temperature has increased by 1.5 °F (0.83 °C) since 1880 with the last years being the hottest. As global warming accelerates, so does extreme weather, which challenges farmers with droughts, floods, and pests. Extreme weather is the cause of 90% of crop losses in the US. And, now there are the trade wars hurtling down on soybeans.

Some fast facts:

In 2019, there were approximately 2 million farms in the US, down from 6.8 million in 1935.

Farmers and ranchers make up 1.3% of the U.S. labor force.

Farming contributes more than $100 billion to the US economy.

This FARMING section will explore how farmers are shifting their practices as they search for solutions, which protect both the climate and their ability to feed people. They are looking to the future for both new technologies and old traditions, such as regenerative agriculture to grow dying topsoil. They are re-examining the methods utilized to ease work and gain greater yields over the last seventy-five years and asking if they need to be reassessed.

Consumers are also learning. Many don’t have a full understanding of how big a role agribusiness has played in the decline of small farming communities. It is increasingly important for us to “know our farmer” and, useful for us to understand how decisions on trade can overnight decimate a rural farming community.

CURRENT NEWS

KEY RESOURCES

Soil Carbon Moonshot

04/18/22
3 Soil Carbon Moonshot Executive Summary Investments from the US federal government have shaped the notion of modern farming known across the country. For decades, the agriculture sector benefited from robust public research and investment…

Farm Bill Primer: What Is the Farm Bill?

02/17/22
The farm bill is an omnibus, multiyear law that governs an array of agricultural and food programs. It provides an..

Restoring Soil, Profits, Farms and Futures

01/31/22
Meet four world-renowned regenerative farming experts and learn why they formed Understanding Ag, LLC.

Regenerative Farm Map

02/06/20
Click any pin on the map to view more information about specific farms. This is the easiest way to find local farms in your area selling regenerative products.

Livestock for Landscapes

01/07/20
Kathy Voth's goal is to help farmers and ranchers be more profitable by helping them use their livestock's natural behavior as an inexpensive alternative for mangaging weeds and other vegetation.

CalCAN – California Climate & Agriculture Network

08/27/19
We represent a statewide network of sustainable farmers and ranchers and allied organizations, agricultural professionals, scientists, and advocates.

Fibershed – Carbon Farming

08/27/19
The carbon cycle is a critical natural process that moves carbon through Earth’s atmosphere, biosphere, pedosphere, lithosphere and oceans.

Carbon Cycle Institute

08/27/19
The Carbon Cycle Institute’s mission is to stop and reverse climate global change by advancing science-based solutions that reduce atmospheric carbon while promoting environmental stewardship, social equity and economic sustainability.

Land Trust Alliance

08/27/19
The Land Trust Alliance is the voice of the land trust community. As the national leader in policy, standards, education and training, we work passionately to support land trusts so they can save and secure…

A Greener World

08/27/19
Real transparency in food production from the farm right through to the plate.

National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition

08/27/19
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) is an alliance of over 116 member groups that work collectively with NSAC's Washington, D.C.-based staff to promote and enhance sustainable food and farm policy at the federal level.

David Suzuki Foundation

08/27/19
Always grounded in sound evidence, the David Suzuki Foundation empowers people to take action in their communities on the environmental challenges we collectively face. We’re One Nature.

Eco-Farm

07/31/19
The Ecological Farming Association (EcoFarm) is a non-profit educational organization whose mission is to nurture safe, healthy, just, and ecologically sustainable farms, food systems, and communities by bringing people together for education, alliance building, advocacy, and…

NASA Study: Rising Carbon Dioxide Levels Will Help and Hurt Crops

05/03/16
Elevated carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere may increase water-use efficiency in crops and considerably mitigate yield losses due to climate change, according to a new NASA study.

MORE NEWS

Black Farmers Are Rebuilding Agriculture in Coal Country

By Natalie Peart   01/10/22  
While most people associate West Virginia with coal mining, the hills and valleys are also suited for agriculture. And as coal production wanes, farmers are seeing growing opportunities to expand their sector.

Regeneratively Grazed : As Nature Intended

01/04/22  
200 years ago, massive herds of bison would number in the thousands and sometimes hundreds of thousands of head. Constantly on the move, these massive bison herds would leave behind a path of devastation and…

A frenzy of well drilling by California farmers leaves taps running dry

By Maria L. La Ganga, Gabrielle LaMarr LeMee and Ian James  Photo: Irfan Khan   12/16/21  
Vicki McDowell woke up on a Saturday morning in May, thinking about what she would make her son for breakfast. He was visiting from Hayward, and she wanted to whip up something special. Biscuits and…

Kelp Farming Gets a Boost in Suffolk

By Christopher Walsh   12/09/21  
Gov. Kathy Hochul signed legislation on Tuesday permitting Suffolk County to lease underwater lands previously ceded to it by New York State for the purpose of kelp and other seaweed cultivation.

Solar and crop production research shows ‘multi-solving’ climate benefits

By Martin Bonzi and Sarah Spengeman   12/01/21  
Stabilizing the climate demands a rapid transition to 100 percent carbon-free power, which will require large increases in solar power generation. In the U.S., the Biden administration has outlined a plan to power 40 percent…

The Latest Farm Product: Carbon Credits

By Elizabeth G. Dunn  Photo: Rachel Mummey , The New York Times   11/23/21  
Eight years ago, Kevin Prevo started making changes to the land in southern Iowa that his family has farmed for five generations. Mr. Prevo stopped tilling the fields between crop cycles and started planting cover…

Georgia farmers experiment with new crops as the climate changes

By YCC Team   11/05/21  
Summer is the time to enjoy fresh, delicious peaches from Georgia. But winter weather is key to a good harvest. Peach trees need a period of cold to bloom well and produce abundant fruit. The…

Climate challenges mount for California agriculture

By Jan Ellen Spiegel   10/29/21  
California agriculture has experienced just about every form of climate change-induced calamity: Heat, drought, fire, floods. None bodes well for the future of farming in this state that is the U.S. king of agriculture.

New Mexico’s Chile Pepper Farmers Feel the Heat of Climate Change

By Wufei Yu   10/26/21  
In the village of Hatch, New Mexico, at a chile shop cloaked in red ristras — the ornamental strings of chiles that often adorn doorways and windows in the state — Jessie Moreno, the young…

A recipe for fighting climate change and feeding the world

By Sarah Kaplan  Photo: Chase Castor   10/12/21  
“It’s so different from anything I’ve baked with,” says my baking partner, Jenny Starrs. We’re standing in the tiny kitchen of my D.C. apartment, examining palmfuls of a dark, coarse, rich-scented flour. It’s unfamiliar because…

Climate Anxiety Takes a Growing Toll on Farmers

By Gosia Wozniacka   10/05/21  
Nikiko Masumoto grew up revering the peach trees and grape vines on her family’s farm in California’s Central Valley. The orchard and vineyard have been passed down through her Japanese American family for generations and…

🦃The Power of Vertical Integration: Spotlight on Double Brook Farm

By Josh Kiman   10/01/21  
Many businesses dream of vertical integration to maximize control and efficiencies, cut costs, improve quality, and boost profitability.  Yet it remains exceedingly rare because of the substantial up-front costs and the time, tenacity, and vision…

USDA pledges billions for climate-smart farm projects, resilience

By Marc Heller   09/29/21  
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said today he’ll use billions of dollars from a Depression-era agency to pay for a carbon-saving program for farms, and to help farmers prepare for drought and adverse weather associated with…

New USDA initiative to help farmers address climate change

By Jacqui Fatka   09/29/21  
Secretary Tom Vilsack outlined key steps to assist U.S. farmers and consumers with current challenges while charting a course toward a long-term, climate-smart future for all of agriculture, in a speech at Colorado State University…

The Farmer’s Life

By Brian Scott   09/21/21  
No-till is just what is sounds like.  A true no-till system avoids disturbing the soil with tools like chisel plows, field cultivators, disks, and plows.  Not all of our acres are no-till, but we have…

Could Climate Change Put an End to Arizona’s Alfalfa Heyday?

By Greta Moran   09/15/21  
It’s always alfalfa season in Arizona. In most other parts of the country, the perennial crop grows tall enough to harvest just a few times a year. But in the sun-drenched Southwest, the irrigated fields…

Change May Be Coming to Your Favorite Wines

By Paul Sullivan  Photo: Daniel Cole/Associated Press   09/03/21  
The ill effects of climate change on many of the great wine regions in the United States and Europe have only just begun to be felt. Wildfires have torn through vineyards in Napa Valley in…

He is Britain’s famous shepherd-author-influencer. He wants to transform farming to save the planet.

By William Booth  Photo: Simon Bray , The Washington Post   08/28/21  
Britain's rock-star shepherd and best-selling author, James Rebanks, is out at the family farm, giving the tour, waxing rhapsodic about his manure. The glory of it — of the crumbly, muffin-top consistency of a well-made…

Trump let this pesticide stay on the market. Under Biden, EPA is banning its use on food

By Dino Grandoni  Photo: Damian Dovarganes/AP   08/18/21  
EPA to ban chlorpyrifos, linked to neurological damage in young children, on crops such as grapes, broccoli and strawberries – reversing a Trump public health decision...

How Simple Mills Is Supporting Regenerative Agriculture

By Sami Grover   07/29/21  
When frozen potato giant McCain committed themselves to regenerative agriculture, I noted that these signs of positive progress should be tempered with a note of caution: Just like buzz words like “net-zero,” definitions of regenerative agriculture…

As Carbon Markets Reward New Efforts, Will Regenerative Farming Pioneers Be Left in the Dirt?

By Virginia Gewin  Photo:Meredith Ellis   07/27/21  
Meredith Ellis views her family’s cattle ranch in Rosston, Texas, as a giant experiment in how to store more carbon in the soil, improve water quality, and maximize biodiversity. In recent years, Ellis, who works with her…

Scorched, Parched and Now Uninsurable: Climate Change Hits Wine Country

By Christopher Flavelle  Photo: Adrees Latif , Reuters   07/26/21  
 Last September, a wildfire tore through one of Dario Sattui’s Napa Valley wineries, destroying millions of dollars in property and equipment, along with 9,000 cases of wine.

Jesse Frost Wants to Help Produce Farmers Stop Tilling Their Soil

By Twilight Greenaway   07/22/21  
Jesse Frost and his wife Hannah Crabtree have been farming together since 2011, when they met working as apprentices on a small organic farm in southern Kentucky. Eventually, they started their own small market garden…

Excess Fertilizer Causes a New Challenge: Low Crop Yields During Drought

By Rebecca Dzombak   07/21/21  
For decades, soil scientist Rick Haney watched farms—those he worked on, and those he lived near in Oklahoma and Texas—struggle to balance debt and drought, profits, and yields. “The farmers I’ve been around all my…

Leaving crop residues to rot could be an unexpected boon for climate mitigation

By Emma Bryce  Photo: Carsten W Mueller   07/16/21  
If farmers left crop residues to rot on the ground instead of clearing them away or turning them into compost, they could sequester larger amounts of carbon in the soil—one of the most promising pathways…

June’s historic heat wave in the Pacific NW took a major blow to cherry crop industry

By Sean Kelly  Photo: Ander Gillenea , Getty Images   07/07/21  
Just a few weeks ago temperatures soared to unprecedented lengths in the Pacific Northwest. Portland, Oregon reached 116 degrees. Their hottest record of all time; shattering Austin’s current standing all-time record of 112 degrees.

Can Land Conservation and Dual-Use Solar on Farms Coexist?

By Lisa Held   06/29/21  
Most Massachusetts residents agree on the urgent need to tackle the climate crisis. But when it comes to the question of solar development, they’re much less aligned. While some believe the state is blazing a…

It’s Some of America’s Richest Farmland. But What Is It Without Water?

By Somini Sengupta  Photo: Mike Kai Chen   06/28/21  
In America’s fruit and nut basket, water is now the most precious crop of all. It explains why, amid a historic drought parching much of the American West, a grower of premium sushi rice has…

Climate Change Might Be Threatening the Future of Apples

By Eric J Francis  Photo: Karolina Wojtasik/Bloomberg   06/07/21  
Patrick and Sara McGuire have been growing apples since they were married 25 years ago. Their 150 acres in Ellsworth, Michigan—dubbed Royal Farms—are a mix of sweet apples and the bitter varieties suited for making…

Climate versus jobs? Not in this heartland state.

By Stephanie Hanes  Photo: Alfredo Sosa   06/03/21  
For five generations, Andrew Bowman’s family has worked the land in Oneida, population 700-ish – a flat and fertile swath of Illinois his father always said was good for growing crops and kids. Today, he…
FP

Small Farms, Big Pollution

By Ted Nordhaus  Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images   06/02/21  
A reader could be excused for concluding from Matthew R. Sanderson and Stan Cox’s criticism of our recent essay, “Big Agriculture Is Best that virtually all environmental impacts associated with the production of food in…

These 4 start-ups are using seaweed to help save the planet

By Walé Azeez  Photo: REUTERS/Edgar Su   05/25/21  
We’re all familiar with the role forests play when it comes to providing a sustainable source of food, energy and raw materials, and locking away CO2 emissions. But perhaps we’re less knowledgeable about the potential…

Agencies, nonprofits help farms adapt to changing landscape

By Julie Titone  Photo: Olivia Vanni / The Herald   05/24/21  
The Farms and Fields Program and the Washington Farmland Trust are among the private and public efforts designed to help. Both have ties to the Snohomish Conservation District, which serves Snohomish County and Camano Island…

By necessity, local farmers grow resilient to climate change

By Julie Titone  Photo: Olivia Vanni / The Herald   05/23/21  
In fall 2003, Silvana farmer Spencer Fuentes, who is also a commercial fisherman, was harvesting brine shrimp at the Great Salt Lake. His cellphone rang. His wife wanted to warn him about the Stillaguamish River.…

Ditching meat isn’t the answer for climate change. Better farming is.

By Kyle Jaster  Photo: Christopher Smith/For The Washington Post   05/15/21  
Suddenly, meat is out in the high-end food world. Eleven Madison Park, a New York City restaurant with three Michelin stars, recently announced that when it reopens after a pandemic-forced hiatus, the menu will be vegan.…

Agroforestry: Growing money on trees?

By Parker Hughes   05/12/21  
Progress: On a global scale, humankind is facing an environmental crisis connected to the way we use and abuse the land. Modern agriculture's reliance on monocultures (one-crop production systems) threatens the fertility of our soil.…

Air Pollution From Raising Livestock Accounts for Most of the 16,000 US Deaths Each Year Tied to Food Production, Study Finds

By Georgina Gustin  Photo: Getty Images   05/11/21  
Food production, primarily the raising of livestock, causes poor air quality that is responsible for  about 16,000 deaths a year in the United States, roughly the same number from other sources of air pollution, including…

Air pollution from farms leads to 17,900 U.S. deaths per year, study finds

By Sarah Kaplan  Photo: Alex Wroblewski/Bloomberg News   05/10/21  
The smell of hog feces was overwhelming, Elsie Herring said. The breezes that wafted from the hog farm next to her mother’s Duplin County, N.C., home carried hazardous gases: methane, ammonia, hydrogen sulfide.

5 sustainable farming methods assessed

By Lizzy Rosenberg  Photo: REUTERS/Abdel Hadi Ramahi   04/30/21  
Although one might think that farming would benefit the environment by providing people and animals with food sources, it often does more harm than good. Various techniques, such as tillage and the use of pesticides, decreases…

5 things you need to know about measuring sustainability

By May Wheeler   04/27/21  
For the last four years, The SFT has been working on the Global Farm Metric (GFM) – a harmonised measure of sustainability that has the potential to unite food system stakeholders, such as farmers, retailers…

Agrivoltaics: Solar farming our way out of a climate crisis

By Parker Hughes   04/23/21  
Progress: To meet President Joe Biden’s green energy plan to move the US to carbon-free electricity by 2035, solar photovoltaic (PV) technology will likely consume a larger chunk of our nation’s energy portfolio. Yet conventional…

Soil wealth: Regenerative farmland as an asset class

By Parker Hughes   04/16/21  
Progress: In times of uncertainty, including economic recessions or the COVID-19 epidemic, investors are often left searching for “safe” tangible assets, such as gold and land. As of 2018, roughly 52 percent (900+ million acres)…

Seeing is Believing: Regenerative Agriculture Scores a Boost from Danone North America

By Tina Casey   03/29/21  
Regenerative agriculture is beginning to gain a stronger foothold in the mainstream market, and the Danone North America family of dairy brands is setting out to accelerate and scale up the trend. The firm’s five-year…

Feeding Seaweed Supplements to Cows Cuts Methane Emissions by 80%

By Sami Grover   03/19/21  
When a United Kingdom supermarket chain recently pledged that 100% of the British farms that supply it would be net-zero by 2030, it wasn't surprising that it suggested starting with eggs. Nor was it surprising…

How Dirt Could Help Save the Planet

By Jo Handelsman  Photo Credit: J.J. Gouin Getty Images   03/14/21  
The American dust bowl of the 1930s demonstrated the ruinous consequences of soil degradation. Decades of farming practices had stripped the Great Plains of their fertile heritage, making them vulnerable to severe drought. Ravaging winds…

Cutting Out Beef Could Cut Agricultural Land Use In Half

By Lloyd Alter  Photo by Franklin Levert   03/05/21  
Treehugger has been writing about the problems of meat forever, we have been pitching vegetarian and vegan diets for years as a way of reducing one's carbon footprint, and we keep writing posts about reducing…

Will regenerative agriculture change how we grocery shop?

By Bridget Shirvell  Photo by Rocky Luten/Food52   03/04/21  
Look for the word "regenerative" at your local grocery store. Chances are, you'll spot it on boxes of mac and cheese, cartons of milks, or even bags of chips. Regenerative agriculture, also called carbon farming,…

Climate Mitigation ‘Designed By Farmers For Farmers’

By Chuck Abbott   03/02/21  
Farmers and ranchers will have a voice in writing the Biden administration’s plan for alleviating climate change, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Monday — “a system that is designed by farmers for farmers.” A…

Duvall Testifies on Farmers Role in Climate Change

By Andy Eubank   02/28/21  
Duvall spoke at a House Agriculture Committee hearing on climate change and the U.S. agriculture sector. He told lawmakers agriculture accounts for just ten percent of greenhouse gasses emitted in the United States, but agricultural…

Wisconsin Farmers Say Agriculture, Consumers Can Drive Response To Climate Change

By Hope Kirwan  Photo by Charlie Neibergall/AP Photo   02/23/21  
Erin Schneider, one of the panelists and owner of Hilltop Community Farm, said more frequent flash flooding events in the state have shaped the way she thinks about the future of farming during climate change.