As Congress considers this year’s Farm Bill, they have one specific question to answer about the future of our food systems and the survival of our planet: Should we allow food to continue to contribute to the climate crisis or become a sustainable climate solution?
The Farm Bill – which is passed by Congress every five years and must be updated this fall – for the first time shows real momentum to create a stronger food system. The package, which includes funding for nearly every aspect of the United States’ food system, has historically focused on conventional agriculture.
While many details of the Farm Bill remain to be seen, this year climate activists are pushing for transformative interventions worthy of bipartisan support, with healthy soil and farmers at the center. With farmers suffering many of the adverse effects of climate change, the Farm Bill must address climate change like other industry problems and empower farmers. farm to push solutions.
Farmers are not only the backbone of our country’s economy, they are also the drivers of critical climate solutions such as healthy soils, on-farm renewable energy and carbon sinks from crops. Farmers are the first line of defense in the fight against the climate crisis. Many farmers are already experiencing reduced yields, and the effects may continue to worsen if we do not act now.
Most of today’s agricultural practices are “destructive,” destroying the natural systems we need to survive. The way most of our food is grown harms the ecosystems of our planet, causing loss of topsoil and biodiversity, desertification and water and air pollution that negatively affects our food systems and human health.
While “regeneration agriculture” may sound like an environmentalist buzzword, it’s actually a necessary way of thinking about how we can produce food in ways that do more good than harm. Regenerative agriculture looks to not only stop damaging our ecosystem but to improve it. This type of agriculture focuses on improving the health of the soil, removing carbon from our atmosphere, and using different agricultural management methods that are in harmony with natural systems. Now we have the opportunity to move agriculture from a major greenhouse gas contributor to a climate solution.
Regenerative agriculture is growing in popularity, with organizations like Kiss the Ground helping farmers and ranchers switch to regenerative practices and finding environmental and financial benefits – but we need political support. We need farmers, investors, business leaders and local and federal policy makers to come together to make this transition. We need to empower farmers with the resources, support and incentives they need to grow our food in ways that transform our planet and land instead of continuing to destroy it.
Another bright light in the momentum towards more sustainable agriculture is the innovation of farmer partnerships. Innovation is often viewed with skepticism by established industries, but farmers are already innovating and driving new impactful climate solutions. Supporting innovation, research and development through the Farm Bill will accelerate important outcomes like curbing methane and reducing food waste.
Today technology is being used in new ways, not to replace farmers and workers in the food system, but to encourage more effective welfare for all. For example, the company Treasure8 works with partners, growers and food processors to help them use technology to reduce food waste. For farmers and processors, this leads to cost savings. For food manufacturers, this helps them get healthier ingredients to reach more people at a cheaper price. If all participants in the value chain benefit, innovation is not a threat – it is something to be embraced.
Investing in regenerative agricultural solutions should not be viewed as politically divisive or as opposed to economically. We will all benefit. We need strategic investments to accelerate this momentum. We need to invest in farmers and ranchers to unleash the powerful, unique climate solutions our planet and food systems need.
Tenzin Seldon is the founder and managing partner of Pulse Fund, a growth equity fund that invests in breakthrough technologies with pillars such as energy, infrastructure, mobility and food and agriculture. Previously, Seldon founded The Plant, with a vision to create a net-negative global habitat for climate solutions by renovating and re-adapting historic buildings.
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