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

Farmers get billions in government aid. Some of that money could also fight climate change

By Elizabeth Weise 11/09/23
Over the next five years, millions of dollars could be funneled into efforts to help farmers rotate their crops, preserve their soil, improve how their animals are fed and, along the way, significantly reduce the…
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The 20 Farming Families Who Use More Water From the Colorado River Than Some Western States

By Nat Lash and Janet Wilson 11/09/23
Tens of millions of people — and millions of acres of farmland — rely on the Colorado River’s water. But as its supply shrinks, these farmers get more water from the river than entire states.…
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Later frosts could make new crops possible in Alaska. But climate change brings challenges, too.

By Anna Canny 10/25/23
In October, fall gives way to winter for much of Alaska. But each year, the first frost is arriving later and later. That could be a boon for Alaska farmers.
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A bad apple season has some U.S. fruit growers planning for life in a warmer world

By Mara Hoplamazian 10/20/23
The alarm takes the temperature out in their 30-acre orchard and blares loudly if it dips too low. That Thursday night in Concord, New Hampshire, it was about 35 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature kept getting…
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Warming Could Make Northern Wilderness Ripe for Farming, Study Finds

10/20/23
The expansion of farmland is the main cause of terrestrial biodiversity loss globally. And climate climate could exacerbate those losses, according to a new study.
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How Crop Insurance Prevents Some Farmers From Adapting to Climate Change

By Grey Moran 09/20/23
Chris Grotegut has earned a reputation in the High Plains of Texas for farming practices that have helped replenish the region’s depleted aquifer. Just over a decade ago, he began converting his 11,000-acre farm to…
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The debate over crop insurance, as climate change drives the price up

By Frank Morris 09/14/23
Climate change is making insuring crops more risky, but the federally subsidized crop insurance program's payouts are up 500%. With a new Farm Bill coming, critics want to rethink the program.
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Creating a heat standard for vulnerable farmworkers could take years

By Eva Tesfaye 09/06/23
Farmworkers are particularly vulnerable to the extreme heat that's affected so many areas of the country including the Midwest. The push for a federal heatprotection policy is slow.
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Big Farms and Flawless Fries Are Gulping Water in the Land of 10,000 Lakes

By Dionne Searcey and Mira Rojanasakul 09/03/23
THE DROUGHT THAT GRIPPED MINNESOTA in the summer of 2021 was one of the worst on record. Day after day a blazing sun shriveled leaves, dried up waterfalls and turned ponds to puddles.
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Survival of Wild Rice Threatened by Climate Change, Increased Rainfall in Northern Minnesota

By Andrew Hazzard, Sahan Journal 08/14/23
Todd Moilanen paddles gently through wild rice beds on Ogechie Lake, trying not to disturb a loon sleeping on its back on a nest of reeds a few feet away.
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Bone dry on the range: Texas cattle ranchers battle drought, extreme heat

By Evan Garcia 08/10/23
The brown and black cattle of Texas, beloved symbols of the Lone Star state, walk through desiccated grass and stand in shrunken watering holes while their ranchers struggle to get them enough food.
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Hottest July on Record Kills Hundreds of Cows

By Angely Mercado 08/08/23
Alarming heat and humidity killed hundreds of cows in Iowa last month. These losses have further decreased the size of the overall U.S. cattle herd, which has shrunk to a more than 50-year low. The…
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KEY RESOURCES

Federal Crop Insurance Program (FCIP) participation

05/03/23
Since its inception in the 1930s, the Federal Crop Insurance Program evolved into a key Federal support program for agriculture in the United States. The USDA, Risk Management Agency (RMA) oversees FCIP and offers agricultural…

Inflation Reduction Act Funding for Rural Development

04/06/23
In August, Congress passed the Biden-Harris Administration’s historic legislative package known as the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) to reduce energy costs for families and create thousands of good-paying jobs for people across rural America. IRA…

 Regenerative Farmers of America

12/09/22
Find a regenerative farm near you to support or learn.

Where Rice Grows

12/05/22
Each year, American rice farmers sustainably grow roughly 20 billion pounds of rice in Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Texas. Half of the rice crop is consumed in the United States, accounting for 80…

Regenerative Agriculture 101: Everything You Need to Know

11/07/22
Quick Key Facts In regenerative agriculture, the physical, biological and chemical integrity of the soil is preserved through minimal disturbance. Indigenous cultures maintain and have maintained a regenerative relationship with their natural environments, including the…

The Highest Level of Integrity for Regenerative Agriculture

09/20/22
Land to Market is working with brands around the world to heal the planet by regenerating its grasslands. We are giving a voice to the land & are the world’s first verified regenerative sourcing solution…

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.

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.

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…

MORE NEWS

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

By Sean Kelly   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.
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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…
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It’s Some of America’s Richest Farmland. But What Is It Without Water?

By Somini Sengupta   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…
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Climate Change Might Be Threatening the Future of Apples

By Eric J Francis   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…
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Climate versus jobs? Not in this heartland state.

By Stephanie Hanes   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…
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Small Farms, Big Pollution

By Ted Nordhaus   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…
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These 4 start-ups are using seaweed to help save the planet

By Walé Azeez   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…
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Agencies, nonprofits help farms adapt to changing landscape

By Julie Titone   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…
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By necessity, local farmers grow resilient to climate change

By Julie Titone   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.…
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Ditching meat isn’t the answer for climate change. Better farming is.

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

By Sarah Kaplan   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.
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5 sustainable farming methods assessed

By Lizzy Rosenberg   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…
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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…
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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…
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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)…
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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…
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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…
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How Dirt Could Help Save the Planet

By Jo Handelsman   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…
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Cutting Out Beef Could Cut Agricultural Land Use In Half

By Lloyd Alter   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…
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Will regenerative agriculture change how we grocery shop?

By Bridget Shirvell   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,…
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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…
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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…
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Wisconsin Farmers Say Agriculture, Consumers Can Drive Response To Climate Change

By Hope Kirwan   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.
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A Different Kind of Land Management: Let the Cows Stomp

By Henry Fountain   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”…
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Biden Climate Change Strategy Draws Farm Belt Support, Concern in Farm Belt

By Heather Haddon   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.
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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…
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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…
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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.
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A New Study on Regenerative Grazing Complicates Climate Optimism

Virginia Gewin   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.
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5 Environmental Stories That Could Dominate In 2021

By Laura Paddison   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.
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For the Hopi Tribe, withering corn crops show impact of climate change

By Ian James   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.
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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…
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How climate change is complicating a Thanksgiving staple

By Tatiana Schlossberg   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…
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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…
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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…
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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…
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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?
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Climate change is killing the farm belt. With a little help, farmers can fix it

By Art Cullen   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…
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For Small Farms Surviving the Pandemic, Co-ops Are a Lifeline

By Lisa Held   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…
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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.
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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…
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Wildfires Across Northern California Devastate Farmers and Farmland

By Hannah Ricker   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…
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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.
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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…
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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…
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