Inside the movement to convert Iowa farmers into climate evangelists

A faith-based nonprofit group is mobilizing farmers across Iowa to become evangelists in the movement to battle climate change — and it is getting a welcome reception, according to FERN’s latest story, produced in collaboration with Mother Jones.

The story, written by Brian Barth, says the Iowa branch of Interfaith Power and Light convened a series of meetings, aiming “to round up a 100-strong squad of farmers who are willing to speak publicly about agriculture as a climate solution” ahead of the 2020 presidential caucuses in Iowa. The group, headed by Iowa farmer Matt Russell, holds meetings entitled “Faith, Farmers, and Climate Action,” and promotes such practices as no-till farming and cover crops that suck carbon out of the air and sequester it in the soil.

Among the participants are conservative Republicans who recognize that farming practices can help mitigate climate change.

Ray Gaesser, a no-till farmer who serves on President Trump’s agriculture advisory committee, told reporters last year that he did not believe human activity was responsible for all climate change. “But after attending an Interfaith Power and Light meeting earlier this year, he pledged to help Russell. When I met him in his tidy white equipment shed outside Corning, Iowa,” Barth  writes, “he told me he believed it was time for farmers to claim the ‘leadership mantle’ in mitigating climate change, in part because farmers ‘are also sequestering carbon, but nobody’s giving them credit.’ ”