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

The nutrient density content in our food has dropped over 60%

07/13/22
Soilworks Invests, operates and incubates companies that will power the Regenerative Agriculture Revolution.

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

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  
Billy McCaffrey trawled his hands through the cold, clear water, creating a small wake in the calm. Below the surface, the flooded vines of the cranberry bog looked like a Christmas tree garlanded with shining…

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…

New carbon capture project could help corn growers

By Morgan Benth   10/19/20  
A new carbon capture project across from the Blue Flint ethanol facility near Underwood, North Dakota has begun, in an effort to prevent the more than 200,000 tons of CO2 emissions the facility produces every…

What Impacts Do the West Coast Wildfires, Smoke Have on Crops?

By Virginia Gewin   10/13/20  
On September 12, Iverson Family Farms posted ominous images on social media of their fields under a ruddy red sky, thick with a stagnant, dense haze—a stark contrast to the vibrant annual Wooden Shoe Tulip…

Value in manure: Harvesting methane good for the environment, NC economy

By Tanja Vujic   10/11/20  
What does a Pennsylvania potato farmer’s question at a Joe Biden Town Hall have to do with North Carolina? A lot, actually. It’s not so much about the question, however, as it was about the…

The Soil Revolution That Could Save Farming And The Climate

By Alexander C. Kaufman   09/25/20  
Joe Biden and other Democrats are backing regenerative farming, which pulls carbon from the atmosphere and restores nutrients to soil. But is it ready for prime time?

Are Carbon Markets for Farmers Worth the Hype?

09/24/20  
Farmers, take note: Carbon stored in soil could soon become its own commodity crop. That’s the message from developers, corporations, and legislators pushing for new carbon markets specifically tailored to agriculture.

Climate change is killing the farm belt. With a little help, farmers can fix it

By Art Cullen  Photo by Charlie Neibergall   09/19/20  
They call the storm a derecho, and it blasted through Tim Gannon’s central Iowa farm at 100 mph on Aug. 10, wrecking a machine shed and burying his equipment. Fourteen million acres of Iowa crops…

For Small Farms Surviving the Pandemic, Co-ops Are a Lifeline

By Lisa Held  Photo: Caroline Carter Pam on Instagram   09/14/20  
Ian Colburn, Zoey Fink, and Casey Holland all operate small, diversified farms in the Albuquerque, New Mexico area. The farmers already had plants in the ground in March when they realized restaurants and farmers’ markets—two…

Op-ed: How Patents Threaten Small Seed Companies

09/11/20  
When Brian Campbell and Crystine Goldberg of Uprising Seeds in Bellingham, Washington, opened a letter from German multinational chemical company BASF, they were caught off guard.

Iowa Farmers Face Climate-Fueled Destruction, While the Industry Says it’s ‘Just Weather’

By Aaron Calvin   09/09/20  
Beneath a white tent on a wind-driven day in early September, Jerry Engelson wears a worried expression, visible even though most of his face is covered by a mask.

Farmers and Ranchers in Crisis: Extreme Weather

09/08/20  
Donnie lives near Keene, North Dakota and owns a farming/ranching operation. He farms multiple crops including wheat, oats, barley, canola, field peas, mustard, and corn. He’s been farming and ranching for over 30 years and lives…

Wildfires Across Northern California Devastate Farmers and Farmland

By Hannah Ricker  Photo: Jered Lawson   08/24/20  
On Tuesday night, Judith Redmond was alarmed by the thick brown smoke that clouded the air as she drove the 75 miles back from the Berkeley farmers’ market to Full Belly Farm in the Capay…

How Tennessee farmers are helping to fight climate change | Opinion

By John Castellaw   08/21/20  
Improved technology and farming practices are growing crops more efficiently while benefiting the environment.

USDA Moves Forward with Sweeping Plans to Prevent Fraud in Organics

By Lisa Held   08/17/20  
In 2017, The Washington Post reported on a shipment of 36 million pounds of soybeans that were shipped from Ukraine to Turkey to California and sold as organic, even though they had been fumigated with…

Closure of Western Lamb Processor by JBS Could ‘Devastate the Ranch Economy’

By Claire Kelloway   08/14/20  
In a few weeks, many Western sheep ranchers might not have a place to slaughter their lambs. Global meatpacking giant JBS last month won the bankruptcy auction for the Mountain State Rosen (MSR) lamb processing…

Shockingly Simple: How Farmland Could Absorb an Extra 2 Billion Tonnes of CO2 From the Atmosphere Each Year

Photo by Dr Dimitar Epihov   07/11/20  
In the first nation-by-nation assessment, published in Nature, scientists have demonstrated the method’s potential for carbon drawdown by major economies, and identified the costs and engineering challenges of scaling up the approach to help meet ambitious…

Spreading rock dust on the ground could pull carbon from the air, researchers say

By Lyndsey Layton  Photo by Getty Images   07/08/20  
Spreading rock dust on farmland could pull enough carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to remove about half of the amount of that greenhouse gas currently produced by Europe, according to a major study published Thursday in the…

Spreading rock dust on the ground could pull carbon from the air, researchers say

By Lyndsey Layton  Photo by Getty Images   07/08/20  
Spreading rock dust on farmland could pull enough carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to remove about half of the amount of that greenhouse gas currently produced by Europe, according to a major study published Thursday…

Soil Scientist Wins $250K Prize for Helping Farmers and Fighting the Climate Crisis

By Jordan Davidson  Photo: IFPRI / Milo Mitchell   06/23/20  
The demands of feeding a planet rapidly careening toward 10 billion people, coupled with the environmental degradation that industry and development has caused, has left much...

Turning manure into money

By Jim Morrison  Photo by Adam Glanzman   06/16/20  
Farmers and utilities are burning methane for energy — and curtailing a powerful greenhouse gas in the process

Factory Farming Ban Proposed by Senators Booker, Warren

By Jordan Davidson  Photo: Joe Raedle / Getty Images   05/11/20  
The dangers of working shoulder-to-shoulder in a meat processing plant have come to the forefront as the novel coronavirus has exposed the fragility of the meat...

‘Nerve-Racking and Very Unusual’: Snow in May Worries Growers

By Maria Cramer  Photo: Michelle V. Agins/The New York Times   05/09/20  
The coronavirus pandemic was already making life on the farm unpredictable, and then came an Arctic blast.

Researchers Aim to Reduce the Energy Footprint of Indoor Farms

By Yale Climate Connections  Photo: pixinoo / Getty Images   05/07/20  
Indoor farms can grow vegetables close to cities, where there are lots of people to feed. Farming indoors can also extend the growing season in cold...

Agribusiness and Climate Change: How Six Food Industry Giants Are Warming the Planet

04/19/20  
Agriculture's critical dependence on fossil fuels and the clearing of forests, grasslands and prairies for farming are the top two factors responsible for today's massive global increases in CO2. Factory smokestacks, once seen as icons…

Preserving Farmland Could Help the Climate, Advocate Says

By Yale Climate Connections  Photo: Unsplash   04/03/20  
In many parts of the U.S., family farms are disappearing and being replaced by suburban sprawl."Our estimates are that farmland loss is occurring at an alarming...

Flooding Stunted 2019 Cropland Growing Season, Resulting in More Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide

By Robert Perkins  Photo: Caltech   04/02/20  
Severe flooding throughout the Midwest—which triggered a delayed growing season for crops in the region—led to a reduction of 100 million metric tons of net carbon uptake during June and July of 2019, according to…

Farmers and funders get behind push to reinvent agriculture in an era of climate change

By Diana Hembree   02/03/20  
The Regenerative Agriculture Foundation, which aims to change how farmers and ranchers work their land, is at the forefront of one of the hottest movements in...

Diversification can buffer vineyards against climate change

By Natalie Parletta  Photo by Elizabeth Wolkovich   01/28/20  
As the planet continues to warm, many vineyards will become less viable – but diversifying crops could help mitigate the impact, an international study has predicted. Modelling showed that global warming of two degrees Celsius…

Wine Regions Could Shrink Dramatically With Climate Change Unless Growers Swap Varieties

01/27/20  
Diversity is key to resilience, says new study. ...

Farm Bureau Warily Concedes on Climate, But Members Praise Trump’s Deregulation

By Georgina Gustin  Photo by Georgina Gustin   01/23/20  
When thousands of farmers gathered here this week for the annual convention of the country's most powerful agricultural group, they heard a lot of welcome news.

U.S. Food Trade Increasingly Leans On Unsustainable Groundwater

By Bret Walton  Photo by Brett Walton   01/23/20  
American agriculture is a behemoth, a world-leading industry that, while meeting extensive domestic demands, still exports around $140 billion in farm products each year. Soybeans go to China. Cherries to Japan. Baskets of goods to…

Regenerative farming practices help combat effects of climate change

By Steve Gardiner   01/22/20  
As a third-generation farmer near Goodhue, Minnesota, Kaleb Anderson has lived his life close to the land. When changing weather patterns affected his farming, he began concentrating on regenerative practices in 2006.

FARMING’S GROWING PROBLEM

By Joe Wertz  Photo by Joe Wertz   01/22/20  
Fertilizers are contaminating and warming the planet. Regulators haven’t acted on decades-old warnings.

Swarms of Teeny Robo-Tractors Will Outmaneuver Tesla’s Driverless Cars

By Sarah Kessler  Photo by Janet Mac   01/13/20  
While Elon Musk and Waymo get all the attention — and regulations — autonomous vehicles for farming face fewer tech barriers and could be just as important

After a Rough Year, Farmers and Congress Are Talking About Climate Solutions

By Georgina Gustin  Photo by Rob Myers   12/26/19  
As millions of acres of American farmland sat under historic floodwaters this spring, a remarkable pattern began to emerge. Even among fields that sat side-by-side, with the same crops and the same soil type, researchers…

We only have 60 years of topsoil left

By Bella Ota   12/17/19  
He noticed my eyes widen with interest, and, as he cleaned my teeth, he continued explaining that outside the beltline of the city of Buenos Aires, there had been huge expanses of soy cultivation.

Planting native prairie could be a secret weapon for farmers

11/24/19  
When farmer Gary Guthrie describes recent changes to his farm, his eyes light up. After adding native prairie to his central Iowa operation, he remembers hearing the hum of pollinators flocking to the property. “Oh,…