USDA needs to facilitate a transition towards approaches like regenerative agriculture, agroecology and organic agriculture in order to build a food and agricultural system that is able to combat climate crisis, says American Sustainable Business Network

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February 10, 2022 (press release) –

The American Sustainable Business Network (ASBN) today announced its support of the USDA'S Partnership for Climate Smart Commodities, whereby the department will use $1 billion from its Commodity Credit Corporation to enact pilot programs across the country that are focused on reducing the impact of climate change across the country. The agricultural sector is reported to contribute approximately 10 percent of the country's overall emissions. However, agriculture can be a potential solution to removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by absorbing and storing carbon in the healthy soil based on land management practices that don't rely on monocropping. The Secretary of Agriculture, Thomas Vilsack, made the announcement.

The new program will financially support projects that facilitate climate-friendly conservation practices on working farms and forests, including no-till, cover crops, rotational grazing and/or reforestation.

ASBN applauds the USDA for taking a proactive stance on supporting climate mitigation and resilience on agricultural and forestry land through climate-smart agriculture. However, in supporting climate-smart agriculture, experts from ASBN's Regenerative Agriculture and Justice Working Group suggest encouraging the USDA to not narrowly focus on carbon sequestration at the expense of a more holistic and transformative approach. To build a food and agricultural system that is truly able to combat the climate crisis, the USDA needs to facilitate a transition towards approaches like regenerative agriculture, agroecology, and organic agriculture while foregrounding resilience, justice, and equity. These approaches will not only sequester carbon dioxide and reduce the sectors' greenhouse gas emissions, but are also the best approaches for building and maintaining soil health, biodiversity, nutrient cycling, resilience to extreme weather events, groundwater recharge, and soil and water retention.

In the implementation of the new Partnership for Climate-Smart Commodities Program, ASBN strongly encourages the USDA to follow the recommendations outlined in the letter here signed by nearly 250 stakeholders from across sectors and the principles outlined here by ASBN's Regenerative Agriculture and Justice Working Group.

"This initiative helps advance progress towards the goal to cut the farm sector's greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 and put the U.S. on a path to net-zero emissions by 2050," said David Levine, president and co-founder of the American Sustainable Business Network. "Agriculture is a crucial industry for our society that needs the investments and incentives to transition to regenerative solutions that will support our farmers and ranchers, boost our economy, and solve for climate impacts."

"Good climate policy is good business policy," said Avocado Green Mattress Chief Marketing Officer and Co-Founder Mark Abrials. "The time is now to invest in regenerative agriculture and other climate-smart projects that will help stabilize our supply chains and create a more resilient economy and healthier planet for all."

"We believe that through regenerative agriculture, and use of technologies to reduce methane emissions, agriculture can become an important part of the solution to climate change rather than a major cause of this truly existential crisis. We are excited that the USDA is taking steps to move agriculture in this direction through the Climate Smart Commodities Partnership," said Dave Rappaport, Global Social Missions Officer, Ben and Jerry's.

"Patagonia supports organic and regenerative organic farming methods because conventional agriculture is wreaking havoc on our planet," said Corley Kenna, head of Communications and Public Policy at Patagonia, who also sits on the Board of Directors for the Regenerative Organic Alliance. "We applaud the USDA for making this investment because switching from fossil fuel-intensive farming to organic, no- and low-till practices that build healthy soil and draw carbon back into the ground turns our agricultural system from problem to solution."

"As a leader in regenerative agriculture and holistic managed grazing, Thousand Hills applauds the USDA in the recent initiatives supporting regenerative agriculture for the wellbeing of future generations and for building a resilient food system. Regenerative agriculture is a powerful but natural approach to working as one with nature to sequester carbon, improve watersheds, providing wildlife and pollinator habitat while enhancing rural economies," said Matt Maier, Farmer Owner, Regenerative Renegade, Thousand Hills Lifetime Grazed 100% Grass Fed Beef.

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Dan Rivard
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