As COP26 nears, activists say agriculture should be a bigger part of the agenda

The United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), which starts Oct. 31 in Glasgow, has been billed as a “turning point” for humanity and the “last, best chance” of averting climate disaster. And given the growing awareness of the central role that food and agricultural systems play in climate change—both as a cause and as part of a potential solution—many activists say that the sector is not as big a piece of the COP26 agenda as it should be. (No paywall)

North America can lead the world on climate mitigation, says Vilsack

The agriculture ministers of Canada, Mexico, and the United States described national initiatives to boost productivity and slow global warming at the World Food Prize symposium on Thursday, with U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack saying, "There's a tremendous opportunity for North America to lead the world." While he called for being tolerant of different approaches to climate mitigation, Vilsack was clear that in his view, the U.S. high-technology approach is the best.

Keep climate-smart agriculture in ‘Build Back Better’ bill, say lawmakers

While Democratic leaders in Congress are trying to scale down the cost of President Biden's social welfare and climate change bill, it is important to make "bold investments ... that expand climate-smart agriculture practices," said two House Democrats. The members of the House Agriculture Committee said the money should be funneled through voluntary programs already offered by the USDA.

Project will measure carbon on idled U.S. cropland

A $10 million project will sample, measure, and monitor the amount of soil carbon in environmentally fragile cropland idled as part of the Conservation Reserve, said the USDA on Tuesday. Earlier this year, the agency said it would harness the reserve to mitigate climate change by paying landowners to implement climate-smart practices.

Ag coalition proposes climate mitigation for $100 an acre

At the same time farm-state lawmakers are trying to add $2 billion to $3 billion a year to USDA conservation programs, a coalition of farmers and ag groups says the price tag for climate mitigation on the farm should be much higher —$100 per acre or $40 billion a year when fully implemented. No paywall

Climate mitigation is actually agricultural market development, says Vilsack

The USDA will put a "significant" amount of money into large-scale pilot projects of climate-smart agricultural practices to create new markets for sustainably produced products, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Wednesday. In announcing the initiative, which would go into effect next year, he painted dollar signs on his picture of climate mitigation.

‘State of emergency’ in drought-hit U.S. forests

The government needs to quicken the pace of its fuel reduction work in public forests at the same time that it marshals enough crews to fight wildfires, said Forest Service chief Randy Moore at a House hearing on Wednesday. "The sobering takeaway: America's forests are in a state of emergency, and it's time to treat them like one."

‘Lord God Bird’ among 23 species declared extinct

The ivory-billed woodpecker, America's largest woodpecker, with a 31-inch wingspan, is extinct, said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, ending years of lingering hopes that the "Lord God Bird" had survived deep in southern bottomland forests. The ivory-bill was one of 23 species declared extinct on Wednesday, 11 of them birds.

New $5 billion cover crop initiative in climate package

Farmers and landowners would share a combined $5 billion in payments for planting cover crops to reduce soil erosion and nutrient runoff under a proposal written by farm state Democrats in the Senate and House. The package would also boost spending on a handful of existing stewardship programs for total outlays of $28 billion.