One of Solutions from the Land’s (SfL) primary missions over the past decade has been to help and inspireagricultural and forestry sector leaders to become powerful voices in the broader discussion of climate change, including adaptation and mitigation.
Towards this end, SfL has been building state, regional and national climate smart agricultural alliances and equipping agricultural partners to innovate effective on-the-ground adaptations that sustain productivity, enhance climate resilience, and contribute to local and global goals for sustainable development.
A shared focus for all of this work are the strategies and practices that help producers adapt to changing climatic conditions and enhance resilience. Examples include cover crops, enhanced crop rotation, rotational grazing, and no-and low-till farming; techniques which capture or sequester carbon in soil and also improve soil health, promote crop resilience and reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions. These proven land management practices result in more efficient use of inputs, creating less run-off and improving water quality. They also enhance biodiversity, resulting in improved wildlife habitat.
From each of these climate smart agriculture initiatives – be it the North American Climate Smart Agriculture Alliance (NACSAA) or programs in North Carolina, Ohio, Missouri, the Delmarva Peninsula and most recently, Florida – a strong cadre of leaders has stepped forward. These innovative experts hail from crop and livestock organizations, value chain industry partners, academic institutions, governments, environmental organizations, and – most importantly – agricultural operations of every scale. They are working together to develop consensus-based action plans and policy agendas that address pathways to sustain a thriving agricultural and forestry sector that also protects air and water quality and reduces the effects of climate change.
Although the political climates in Washington and many statehouses across the country have presented challenges to addressing climate change in general and its impact on agricultural and forestry operations in particular, farmers, agribusinesses and rural communities are already experiencing the impacts of climate change, and are calling in increasing numbers for action in the form of climate vulnerability assessments and adaptive management planning. They also see opportunities to deliver high-value and lower-cost mitigation services and are exploring enabling policies to deliver these at scale.
This is a massive undertaking, which requires the support of funding partners who recognize that any plan to address the impacts of a changing climate must be developed proactively by those who work on the land – farmers, ranchers and forestland owners.
Many climate action funders don’t yet appreciate the readiness and potential of agricultural landscape solutions. Those that do often pursue narrow solution pathways, focused on a limited number of strategies, rather than a systems approach that recognizes the tremendous diversity of agricultural landscapes and ecosystems and enables producers to utilize the systems and practices that best support their farming operations. Regardless of how agriculture changes in the 21st century, farmers, ranchers and foresters who understand both their needs and their risks will be the ones to usher in its final form.
A preponderance of scientific reports makes clear that there is a growing threat to how we produce food, feed, fiber, energy and ecosystem services – and that the time for action is now.
We invite those funding entities who appreciate the climate solutions derived from well managed agricultural lands to step up and support our efforts. With strong financial backing, industry thought leaders can create, incubate and spin off landscape scale, multi-stakeholder collaborations that improve the resilience of working agricultural and forestry landscapes and simultaneously deliver integrated climate solutions from the land.
Who is ready to help these pioneers advance pragmatic, proven and innovative agricultural solutions that benefit producers, the public and the planet? To learn more about these solutions and explore how you might help, contact SfL President Ernie Shea at 410-952-0123, or at Eshea@SfLDialogue.net.