House report calls for major action on climate, lays out ag plan

House Democrats released a massive report on Tuesday calling for widespread changes in the economy to achieve net-zero carbon emissions in the United States by 2050, laying out in effect a policy blueprint after the 2020 election. “To turn the tide on climate change, the United States needs to …

Senate bill would help farmers get into carbon markets, say backers

Farmers could combine environmental and economic sustainability through practices that lock carbon into the soil, but it's dauntingly difficult to enter the carbon sequestration market and get paid for it, said the leaders of the two largest U.S. farm groups on Wednesday.

World Food Prize goes to scientist who ‘transformed the way the world saw soils’

Rattan Lal, one of the world's leading soil scientists, is this year's winner of the $250,000 World Food Prize, "the Nobel of agriculture," for his breakthrough research on the importance of carbon to soil health and the potential of carbon sequestration to mitigate climate change. Lal's research "transformed the way the world saw soils," said the foundation that awards the annual prize.

Unsafe heat for farmworkers to nearly double by 2050, study predicts

Officially, about five farmworkers die every year from heat-related illness, though that number is likely an undercount. But whatever the true death toll, it’s expected to rise sharply in coming years. According to a study led by climate scientist Michelle Tigchelaar, the number of unsafe days in crop-growing U.S. counties will jump from today’s 21 per season to 39 days per season by 2050. The near doubling of unsafe days implies a near doubling in deaths. (No paywall)

Ancient Southwest farming cultures faced extreme drought. Now it’s back.

Centuries ago, the Zuni people in the arid Southwest region of the United States developed a sophisticated farming culture, channeling water towards crops and breeding climate resilient seeds, reports Tim Folger, in FERN's latest story, produced with The Weather Channel. But that culture was also likely wiped out by a rare 50-year megadrought that may now be underway again in the West. (No paywall)

Big money is pouring into ‘carbon farming.’ But can it help mitigate climate change?

As efforts to wean society off fossil fuels have stalled, “natural climate solutions” such as soil carbon sequestration have rapidly gained steam. But, as Gabriel Popkin reports in FERN's latest story, published with Yale Environment 360, "a growing number of scientists worry that mounting societal pressure to do something to counter climate change is pushing money into so-called carbon farming before the science needed to underpin it is mature."(No paywall)

Legislation calls for measuring conservation results

For the first time, the USDA would assess the results of its land stewardship programs, such as tons of carbon sequestered in the soil or reductions in nutrient runoff, under companion bills filed in the House and Senate on Wednesday.

With new bill, Pingree positions farming as a climate solution

The debate about how to address climate change hasn't always portrayed agriculture as a tool for mitigating the effects of excess carbon in the atmosphere. But a new bill introduced Wednesday by Rep. Chellie Pingree brings farming into the climate spotlight with an ambitious goal of reaching net zero emissions in the agriculture sector by 2040.

Although it’s still small, interest in plant-based diets is growing, says survey

More than half of all Americans would eat more plant-based foods if they had more information about the effect of their food choices on the environment, said a survey released on Thursday. (No paywall)

As the Salton Sea shrinks, a toxic mess looms

The Salton Sea, the largest lake in California, is drying up, revealing a bed packed with toxic chemicals, the residue of a century of runoff from Imperial Valley farms. Public-health experts worry that those chemicals pose a grave risk to the health of people who live nearby, mostly farmworkers, the elderly and families too poor to relocate, as Lindsay Fendt reports in FERN's latest story, published with The Weather Channel. (No paywall)