Like many organizations this time of year, Solutions from the Land’s leaders are evaluating 2023 and mapping out their path forward. As SfL President Ernie Shea explains, the recent holiday break may have been the first time in 12 months the non-profit leaders and their partners have had a moment to catch their breath.
“There is a need to adopt many pathways to achieve our 21st Agricultural Renaissance vision in support of Sustainable Development Goals attainment,” Shea says. “So, Solutions from the Land and our partners have seized every opportunity to bring agriculture to the frontlines of pivotal decisions and discussions.”
With a busy year has come a mountain of progress, Shea adds. But it wouldn’t have been possible without the many farmers, ranchers and forester landowners and partner organizations who have collaborated with SfL this past year.
“I am awestruck by what we have been able to accomplish by working together,” Shea says. “Through uncommon, multi-stakeholder collaboration we used our global farmer envoy program to intervene in multiple UN platforms, supported self-directed state work groups across the country, and so much more. Collaboration with our producers and partners was key every step of the way.” The following is a readout of some of SfL’s work recorded on our web site.
State Level Highlights
Indiana – Starting off 2023 strong, the Indiana Smart Agriculture (INSA) Work Group released their team’s first report Indiana Smart Agriculture Report: A Vision and Roadmap for Indiana Climate-Smart Agriculture. The report goes through the science of weather and climate variations; the challenges these changes create for Indiana agriculture; and the next steps. Read more.
Iowa – In June, the Iowa Smart Agriculture (IASA) Work Group held a Circles of Life Forum to advance IASA efforts to challenge, promote, educate and equip the state’s agricultural community into the 21st Century. Topics included circular agriculture’s challenges and opportunities, risk management in an unpredictable environment, and payments for ecosystem services. More than 80 individuals attended the event in person, while many more tuned in virtually. Read more.
Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming – Throughout the year, SfL and partners utilized existing scientific reports, attended professional conferences, and interviewed experts to begin defining the processes driving ecosystem change in the Upper Colorado River Basin. While successful cross-boundary conservation collaboratives have been documented, private/public working land collaboratives at the scale SfL envisions are rare and typically operate under a strong government-centric construct. Read more.
Florida – Leading into the fall, SfL and partners provided two educational sessions at the virtual Florida Climate Week. Presentations included Quantifying Agricultural Ecosystem Service Delivery Using Artificial Intelligence and the Florida Climate Smart Agriculture: Healthy Farms – Healthy Bays. Both sessions left attendees with an understanding of how to enhance the sustainability of agricultural operations and improve water quality, fisheries and habitat in key Gulf Coast bays and estuaries. Read more.
National Level Highlights
2023 Farm Bill – SfL kicked off 2023 by advocating that the farm bill should address the increasing needs of farmers and that policies and programs truly aid in the requirements of farmers today and in the future. The team urged House and Senate Agriculture Committee members to review the 21st Century Agriculture Renaissance: Solutions from the Land report, and the Iowa Smart Agriculture: Solutions from the Land report. They also encouraged Congress to expand and accelerate farmer-to-farmer experimentation and knowledge sharing on ecosystem services delivery. Read more.
World Agri-Tech Summit – This was the first year a panel of farmers were invited to participate in an opening session of the World Agri-Tech Summit. The panel discussion Farmers’ Voices: Managing Risk and Responding to Volatility allowed tech leaders to learn about the challenges and opportunities of climate change directly from three farmers. More than 2,000 agri-tech leaders attended the summit. Read more.
Circular Agricultural Bioeconomy– Members of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) held their annual international conference in Nebraska this past July. SfL was invited to participate in the conference’s Circular Bioeconomy Systems Day. Ray Gaesser, an SfL board member and co-chair of Iowa Smart Agriculture, shared how circular bioeconomy systems can create more efficiencies and expand the circles of life on the farm and beyond. Read more.
Global Level Highlights
United Nations Water Conference – SfL and collaborating partners led a highly successful side event at the UN Water Conference. The 75-minute session provided attendees with case studies, agricultural expertise and collaborative conversation on how the entire agricultural value chain is leading the way in enhancing water management and what stakeholders need to take their efforts to the next level. Read more.
SfL Farmers in Rome – Farmers Amelia Levin Kent and Fred Yoder shared their climate smart agriculture insight and recommendations at the International Agri-Food Network’s (IAFN) Climate, Science and Innovation Forum as well as the Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture’s (GACSA) Annual Forum. Both Kent and Yoder focused on how ag can globally deliver land-based solutions to problems like food insecurity, loss of biodiversity and water issues. Read more.
United Nations Environment Program – In May, SfL Co-Chair and California farmer A.G. Kawamura was named co-chair of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP)’s Farmers Major Group. As co-chair of UNEP’s Farmers Group, Kawamura will advocate for farmer-centered policy and discussion and share examples from the field of farmers, ranchers, foresters and fishermen improving their environment and economics while delivering food, fiber and fuel. Read more.
FAO Committee on World Food Security – Ahead of the 51st plenary session of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS 51), Solutions from the Land released a new report outlining a farmers’ view of how data should be collected, analyzed and used in support of investments, markets and programs that enable and scale agricultural solutions to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) attainment. Kyle Bridgeforth, an Alabama cotton, corn, soybeans, wheat and canola farmer, presented the report at a side event at CFS 51. This event provided attendees with fourteen farmer-focused recommendations centered around data management decisions. Read more.
COP 28 in Dubai – COP 28 was a strong ending to 2023 and SfL’s efforts. Nearly 140 countries signed onto a first-ever Emirates Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems and Climate Change. The Declaration addresses global emissions while protecting the lives and livelihoods of farmers living on climate change’s frontlines. This year was also the first time in COP history that agriculture-focused events were spread out throughout an entire conference – including an Inaugural Food and Ag Day with over 200 events to choose from! Read more.
Two or three of these highlights by themselves “would be remarkable accomplishments for a small, but hard-working, not-for-profit,” Shea says. But the fact that our team performed so effectively and exceeded expectations across such a wide and diverse set of engagement platforms is a testament to the value of Solutions from the Land.
Looking toward the future, SfL will continue to recruit partners, farmers and leaders to join their efforts. SfL will also continue to focus on the widespread adoption and incorporation of its Guiding Principles to Enable Food Systems to support SDG attainment by 2030.
For more information on how you can become involved in SfL’s 2024 efforts, contact Ernie Shea at 401-952-0123, or by email at Eshea@SolutionsfromtheLand.org.