Report: Farm policies fuel grasslands destruction, undermine climate and biodiversity goals

The U.S.’s grasslands are critical habitats for pollinators and birds and hold vast amounts of carbon in their soils. But our agricultural policies — particularly the Renewable Fuel Standard and crop insurance subsidies — are incentivizing the rapid destruction of these ecosystems, the World Wide Fund for Nature said in a report published Monday. (No paywall)

Vilsack says innovation key to fighting climate change, food insecurity

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Monday touted new investments and partnerships to address climate change and food security through agricultural innovation. Speaking at the opening of the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM for Climate) Summit, he said the initiative has secured more than $13 billion in public and private investments for climate-smart agriculture, reflecting what he called a “global appetite to accelerate innovation.” (No paywall)

Climate a top issue despite turnover in House, says Vilsack

Food and agriculture will play an ever-larger role in climate negotiations on the world stage, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack after participating in the UN climate summit underway in Egypt. Global warming also will be a top issue for the U.S. farm sector, he said, notwithstanding skeptical views among some Republican lawmakers.

Report: Land use and farming have crucial role to play in avoiding climate catastrophe

A major UN climate report released on Monday lays out a broad array of strategies for limiting emissions and mitigating climate change. While the most critical priority is to quickly phase out the use of fossil fuels, the report outlined many opportunities to help limit climate change by altering how land is managed and food is produced. And, critically, most of these options are “available and ready to deploy,” the authors wrote. (No paywall)

Less food, more wildfires in North America with climate change

Global warming "is causing dangerous and widespread disruptions in nature and affecting the lives of billions of people around the world," said a UN climate change report on Monday. Hotter weather and shifts in rainfall are likely to reduce food production in North America and are a risk to food security, said a fact sheet on climate change's impacts on the continent.

As globe warms, risk of agricultural drought rises, says climate report

Without immediate and broad-scale action to limit greenhouse gas emissions, global warming almost certainly will result in heat waves, changes in rainfall patterns and agricultural droughts, said a report by the UN climate change panel on Monday. Agricultural and ecological droughts were likely …

Agriculture linked to one-fifth of U.S. air pollution deaths

Air pollution is the largest environmental mortality risk in the United States, responsible for 100,000 premature deaths annually, and one-fifth of those deaths are linked to agriculture, said research published by the National Academy of Sciences on Monday. Scientists from five universities …

Trump trade rollercoaster heads back up but with conflicting claims

After a weekend in which Trump lashed out angrily at China, calling its leader "an enemy," Trump was making nice again at the end of the G7 meeting on Monday, praising Chinese President Xi Jinping as a "great man" and saying prospects for a trade deal looked brighter. Soybean prices rose on the news.

In new ag platform, Warren pledges to take on Big Ag

Sen. Elizabeth Warren announced her agriculture policy platform Wednesday, three days before she is set to participate in a Democratic presidential candidates’ forum in rural Iowa. The platform calls for curtailing consolidation in agriculture by breaking up big agribusiness companies, reversing agriculture mega-mergers, and more. (No paywall)

Can Democrat presidential hopefuls win rural votes?

While the growing list of Democratic candidates for president is dominated by politicians from predominantly urban settings, some still have decent track records on agriculture and food issues. This policy experience could help them in rural communities, a weak spot for the party in 2016. But rural advocates caution that the candidates need to build on past proposals if they hope to steer rural voters away from Donald Trump and the GOP.

‘Unusually early spring’ is rolling northward across U.S.

Spring officially arrives March 20, three weeks from now, but spring-like weather is arriving two to three weeks early in the southern United States and "is likely to keep rolling north," says the U.S. Geological Survey. The Interior Department agency, which links early arrival of warm weather to climate change, says the change in timing poses challenges for human health and for food production.

Deforestation gathers speed in Amazon basin

Nearly 2 million acres — 3,100 square miles — of forested land were cleared for agriculture in the Brazilian Amazon in the year ending July 2016, while Bolivia has cut down 865,000 acres, equal to 1,351 square miles, annually, says The New York Times. "A decade after the 'Save the Rainforest' movement forced changes that dramatically slowed deforestation across the Amazon basin, activity is roaring back in some of the biggest expanses of forests in the world," said the newspaper.

Dual challenge for agriculture: Fight climate change while adapting to it

Farmers, foresters, fishers and graziers generate one-fifth of the world's greenhouse gases, said the UN Food and Agriculture Organization in its annual State of Food and Agriculture report. FAO says the chief message of the 2016 edition is, "Agriculture must both contribute more to combating climate change while bracing to overcome its impacts."

Oil and gas is top methane emitter, not agriculture

The jokes about bovine belches melting the polar ice caps can be shelved for the moment, according to a new EPA annual report on U.S. greenhouse-gas production.

Nature: Biosphere a ‘net source’ of greenhouse gases

Researchers say the biosphere, which includes the plants, animals and organisms on land around the world, has become a "net source" of greenhouse gases such as methane and nitrous oxide, reports the Washington Post, citing a study in the journal Nature.

Farmers worry about national security, support Trump

Whether Republican or Democrat, farmers name "national security" or "terrorism" as the most important issue facing the United States, far outweighing any agricultural issue, says a nationwide survey by Aimpoint Research.

Agriculture, the unspoken piece of Paris climate-change deal

The Paris agreement on climate change was "a game changer," according to the FAO director general for giving priority to food security in its preamble. But, notes Think Progress, the text of the agreement does not mention food security or agriculture at all.

Jobs to outnumber grads in ag, food and natural resources

There will be nearly two open jobs for every qualified graduate in the agriculture, food and natural resources sector in the next few years, says Harvest Public Media in summarizing a report by Purdue and the USDA. The gap between graduates and the estimated 60,000 jobs open annually for the next five years has "left the USDA, land grant universities and private industry scrambling to try and bridge the gap."

Enormous potential in Cuba, ag trade is not a one-way street

World Food Prize laureate Pedro Sanchez, a soils scientist, says Cuba "could be a very good market" for U.S. food companies, but adds that "it's not a one-way situation." In an interview with UC Food Observer, Sanchez said, "America has so much to learn from Cuba. Some of the agricultural techniques used in Cuba may benefit our food system."

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