November reminds us of all the things for which we are thankful. Farmers, ranchers and foresters are at the top of our list at Solutions from the Land. As we get settled back at home after the United Nation’s Climate Change Conference in Egypt this month, we are especially thankful for the Solutions from the Land farmer envoys who made the trip to Sharm el-Sheikh to share what they are doing on the land to feed the world and improve the environment.
It doesn’t seem long ago that Solutions from the Land first attended one of these international discussions on climate change. In 2009, at COP15 in Copenhagen, Denmark, we were disheartened to see how agriculture was discussed—without the voices of farmers, ranchers and industry partners. The few times agriculture was on the table, the focus was on problems like ag-driven deforestation, methane and other greenhouse gas emissions, and unsustainable systems that infringed on sensitive ecosystems. We realized a need to raise awareness for all the good agriculture does and to enable people who make agriculture their livelihood to share their perspectives in these international discussions.
After 14 years of proactive conversations and calls for other agriculture value-chain partners to engage, we are happy to say this year’s programming around agriculture/food systems and climate change was much more balanced and positive. While you did not have to look far at COP27 to find the “agriculture is broken” narrative, we and other agriculture partners offered multiple opportunities for international leaders to engage in conversation with farmer delegates and agriculture value-chain partners about solutions we can deliver from the land.
Farmers at COP27
Solutions from the Land was especially pleased to have been selected by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization to co-host the opening event at their pavilion on Agriculture Day, which focused on issues related to adaptation, mitigation, and food systems. At the event, moderated by California Secretary of Agriculture Karen Ross, five farmers from across the globe talked about the climate-smart agriculture systems and practices they use in their operations and what they need to sustainably intensify production, improve resilience, and concurrently reduce greenhouse gas emissions and deliver other high-value ecosystem services.
During Solutions From the Land’s five hosted or co-hosted events, we called for member states and other climate stakeholders to:
- Keep farmers at the center of all discussions and decisions.
- Enable farmers to produce food sustainably, not prescribe how they should farm.
- Utilize all “tools in the toolbox” to deliver desired outcomes.
- Embrace and support innovation and technology as pathways to solutions.
- Scale-up climate smart agriculture research and farmer-to-farmer knowledge sharing.
Our farmer ambassadors included:
- Jocelyn Anderson grows almonds and walnuts in California.
- Brad Doyle, current American Soybean Association president, grows soybeans, rice, wheat and grass hay in Arkansas.
- Ray Gaesser grows corn and soybeans in Iowa.
- AG Kawamura grows fruits and vegetables in California.
- Bryan Sievers grows crops and livestock in Iowa.
- Verity Ulibarri grows crops and livestock in New Mexico.
- Fred Yoder grows corn, soybeans and wheat in Ohio.
It was rewarding to see how effective these farmer ambassadors were in communicating Solutions from the Land’s vision of the 21st Century Agriculture Renaissance. They shined a global spotlight on solutions that can be delivered from the land by well-managed farms, ranches and forests. We greatly appreciate these volunteers taking time to travel to Africa and share their stories.
Watch Farmer-Led Events
If you would like to see the events co-hosted by Solutions from the Land, use the following links.
- Agriculture’s Role in Decarbonizing the Economy and Reducing GHG Emissions, co-hosted by Solutions from the Land, American Biogas Council and POET
- A Sustainable and Inclusive Agriculture Transformation, Engaging the Private Sector, co-hosted by Solutions from the Land, CropLife, International Fertilizer Association and Syngenta Foundation
- Farmers at the Center of Climate Action(Ag Day Kickoff event in the FAO Pavilion), co-hosted by Solutions from the Land, World Farmers Organization, Regen10 and IFOAM-Organics
- Water Is the Face of Climate Change, co-hosted by Solutions from the Land, U.S. Soybean Export Council and Netafim
- Circular System Pathways for Scaling Climate Smart Agriculture, Solutions from the Land, Canadian Cattle Association, Canadian Federation of Agriculture and Aprosojo
Advancing Circular Systems
During each event and additional interaction, Solutions from the Land’s farmer delegates emphasized the value of circular agricultural systems. Circular systems replicate the dynamic complexity of natural systems by making, using and reusing farm products (such as manure, straw, cover crops, recycled water, biogas and seed production) in ways that retain or create value for the operation (for example, as substitutes for production inputs or as additional marketable goods and services).
Verity Ulibarri, for example, shared during multiple events—including a panel discussion organized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture—how she uses circular systems on her New Mexico farm and ranch. She uses a diverse rotation of wheat, grain sorghum and cover crops on her farm. Cover crops can potentially be grazed. Hay and grain are sold to local cattle feeders, and cattle waste is returned to local fields as compost. Grain sorghum is sold to ethanol plants and to grain elevators, where it’s exported or sold to feed mills. The cattle she raises are sold to feedyards and packed mostly within 200 miles before being consumed regionally or exported. And the circle continues.
The “Circular System Pathways for Scaling Climate Smart Agriculture” event particularly showcased the benefits of circular systems in agriculture. Solutions from the Land board member Ray Gaesser, an Iowa farmer, moderated the discussion with Bruno Basso, Ph.D., a Michigan State University professor of plant, soil and microbial sciences, and four farmers from across the Americas: Brad Doyle, an Arkansas soybean and rice farmer; Jocelyn Anderson, a California almond, walnut and row crop farmer; Bob Lowe, an Alberta, Canada, cattleman; and Nathan Belusso, a Mato Grosso, Brazil, corn, soybean and bean farmer.
During the Circular System Pathways event, the farmer delegates shared with international audiences the work and leadership of Iowa farmers: Iowa Smart Agriculture’s new report, “Circles of Life, a Vision for the Future.”
The purpose of COP27 was to negotiate climate change action, and final negotiations extended the conference by a day. Consensus was finally formed on a first step toward establishing a loss and damages mechanism, through which high-emitting countries could contribute resources to help address losses and damages incurred by more vulnerable and threatened nations. Less progress was made on actual climate finance mechanisms and pathways to increase ambition to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Especially interesting to us was the agreement reached to propose joint work on implementation of climate action on agriculture and food security.
The agreement incorporates many of the provisions advanced by Solutions from the Land, in particular language that recognizes the importance of:
- Continued involvement of scientific and technical knowledge.
- Enabling conditions.
- The crucial role of farmers, youth, local communities, and indigenous people (including gender considerations).
- Meeting the needs of farmers and food systems.
Other wins noted in the agreement included recognitions that:
- Livestock management systems are very vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and that sustainably managed livestock systems have high adaptive capacity and resilience to climate change. Livestock production was also recognized as playing broad roles in safeguarding food and nutrition security, livelihoods, sustainability, nutrient cycling, and carbon management.
- Socioeconomic and food security dimensions are critical when dealing with climate change in agriculture and food systems.
- Sustainable land and water management must be informed by scientific, local, and indigenous knowledge and be implemented in a participatory and inclusive manner taking into consideration regional, national and local circumstances to deliver a range of multiple benefits, where applicable, such as adaptation, adaptation co-benefits and mitigation, to ensure food security and nutrition.
- Many approaches with high potential for adaptation, adaptation co-benefits and mitigation relate to land and food systems, such as conserving and restoring ecosystems, improving sustainability of agricultural practices, and reducing food loss and waste from sustainable food systems. They have significant positive direct and indirect links with biodiversity and ecosystem services, food security and the Sustainable Development Goals.
Circular systems received the most agreement among international leaders, which Solutions from the Land farmer delegates appreciated. We see circular systems as a key strategy for agriculture to improve resiliency on and off the farm while delivering a safe, nutritious food supply and important ecosystem services.
Thanks to Partners
We especially want to want to thank and give a big shout out to the American Biogas Council, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, Bayer Crop Science, Netafim and our collaborating COP27 value-chain partners. Their support and confidence in our work made it possible for our SfL envoys to participate in the two-week conference in Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt, and set the stage for an expanded program of work next year at COP28 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and other UN forums where the future of agriculture is being debated and shaped. SfL invites aligned partners join our expanding global work program where together we can recalibrate discussions and shape policies and programs that will enable agriculture to be successful and concurrently valued as a critical pathway for SDG attainment.