FARMING

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

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

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…

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  
Rising temperatures and the risk of wildfires have led some wineries to grow different types of grapes. And some regions that were long overlooked are now producing notable wines.

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 first-of-its-kind report pinpoints meat production as the leading source of deadly pollution

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.

A Different Kind of Land Management: Let the Cows Stomp

By Henry Fountain  Photo by Brett Deering   02/17/21  
Adam Isaacs stood surrounded by cattle in an old pasture that had been overgrazed for years. Now it was a jumble of weeds. “Most people would want to get out here and start spraying it”…

Biden Climate Change Strategy Draws Farm Belt Support, Concern in Farm Belt

By Heather Haddon  Photo by Tim Gruber/The Wall Street Journal   02/09/21  
Food producers said Tuesday at The Wall Street Journal Global Food Forum that they want the new administration to give farmers incentives to cultivate crops in ways that capture carbon dioxide in the soil.

There are More Microplastics in Our Farm Soil Than Our Ocean

By Sage Edwards   02/04/21  
Microplastics in our environment have been a concern for quite some time. These tiny 5mm pieces of plastics are everywhere, from the highest to the lowest points of the Earth. Most of the concern around…

On a mere 1% of farmland, solar panels could provide 20% of US electricity

By Emma Bryce   01/15/21  
Sharing pays off, a new study finds. If farmers in the United States can be convinced to share just 1% of their land with solar panels, they could generate 20% of the country’s electricity with…

Biden’s Climate Plan Relies on Farmers Who Are Often Climate Skeptics

By Georgina Gustin   01/13/21  
The administration says the USDA will be a linchpin of its climate strategy, and farmers are waiting to see what support they will get to help meet new goals.

A New Study on Regenerative Grazing Complicates Climate Optimism

Virginia Gewin  Photo via Civil Eats   01/06/21  
A new, peer-reviewed paper on White Oak Pastures’ practices advances our understanding of the climate impact of beef and the potential for regenerative grazing to store carbon in the soil.

5 Environmental Stories That Could Dominate In 2021

By Laura Paddison  Photo: Carlos Osorio/POOL/AFP via Getty Images   12/30/20  
As the climate crisis worsens, the coronavirus pandemic rages, and Joe Biden prepares to take office, a look at big environmental stories that could define the next year.

For the Hopi Tribe, withering corn crops show impact of climate change

By Ian James  Photo: David Wallace, The Republic   12/01/20  
For 2,000 years, the Hopi have been growing corn in an arid landscape, relying on the rains. Now climate change threatens their farming traditions.

In the most comprehensive study to date, researchers found that greener farming methods don’t compromise yields

By Emma Bryce   11/20/20  
Going green doesn’t always require a sacrifice. A recent study shows that farmers who embrace sustainable cultivation measures like soil tillage and the incorporation of prairie strips and hedgerows into their fields, are able to…

How climate change is complicating a Thanksgiving staple

By Tatiana Schlossberg  Photo: Adam Glanzman for The Washington Post   11/18/20  
Heat waves, drought, warmer winters and erratic rainfall — all signs of climate change — are creating challenges for cranberry growers who have farmed the red fruit for hundreds of years.

The Future of Farm Conservation Programs Hinges on the Election

11/03/20  
Dave McLaughlin’s central Pennsylvania farm has been in his wife’s family for seven generations. Their son now operates a dairy there, while McLaughlin grows corn, soybeans, and small grains including wheat, rye, and barley in…