Founding Director of USDA-NRCS Soil Health Division Bianca Moebius-Clune, PhD Joins American Farmland Trust
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Bianca Moebius-Clune, PhD today joins American Farmland Trust and will lead AFT’s Farmers Combat Climate Change Initiative, which strives for a future where farmers and ranchers embrace regenerative management systems to combat climate change, build healthy soils, minimize greenhouse gas emissions, make operations more resilient to climate disruptions like drought, floods, and disease, and ultimately become more profitable, productive and viable. The initiative also works to protect farmland and promote compact growth, and to advance smart solar siting.
Climate change is a daily reality facing American farmers, as more severe fires, droughts, floods, frosts and other climate-related impacts add new challenges to growing food. The climate crisis directly threatens farmers’ ability to nourish a growing human population while protecting our nation’s air, water, soil and biodiversity. Agriculture is also a major source of greenhouse gases, representing 10 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, so farmers and ranchers are critical to solving this problem. According to the leading experts at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, climate change cannot be solved without transformative action on farmland, rangeland and forests.
“AFT is working for a future where American agriculture is climate neutral, or even a net carbon sink. This is an ambitious goal, but the urgency of the climate crisis demands it,” said Mitch Hunter, PhD, AFT Research Director. “To keep planetary warming below 2°C, as outlined in the Paris Climate Accord, we must optimize our food and farm system to keep greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere and put carbon back in the soil where it belongs. Bianca’s deep understanding of soil systems, success developing USDA strategy and policy, and experience providing direct technical assistance to farmers and ranchers is a perfect combination for this critical work.”
As climate initiative director, Moebius-Clune will lead strategy for and oversee the activities of AFT’s climate initiative, including science-driven quantification approaches; policy leadership and coalition building; and work with farmers, ranchers, land trusts, planners, agricultural service providers, researchers and others.
Moebius-Clune comes to American Farmland Trust having served since 2014 as the founding director of the USDA-NRCS Soil Health Division, where she led the deployment and integration of the new division’s staff of regional and national specialists who provide leadership on NRCS strategy, policy, tools, training, direct assistance, science and technology integration, and soil health efforts nationwide.
Moebius-Clune led the division and NRCS in facilitating producers to implement science-based, effective, economically viable soil health management systems on the nation’s diverse agricultural lands. She led the establishment of national soil health resource concerns; requirements for the agency’s certified conservation planners; in-field and laboratory assessments and management planning; and virtual training and outreach to millions of customers.
Prior to joining USDA-NRCS, Moebius-Clune served on the faculty of Cornell University as a senior extension associate and lecturer, where she taught a class in sustainable soil management.
Moebius-Clune holds multiple degrees in soil science, including a PhD and a Master of Science from Cornell University and a Bachelor of Science from the University of New Hampshire. She has authored numerous peer-reviewed and extension publications on soil health assessment, soil health management and on-farm application of dynamic systems modeling for climate-adapted nitrogen management, as well as NRCS national technical material and policy, and has provided workshops and trainings nationally and internationally.
“I am excited to join the nimble, innovative and forward-looking team of interdisciplinary experts at American Farmland Trust to lead national efforts addressing agriculture’s climate imperative. Healthy soils are the foundation for climate-smart agriculture across all land uses – in applying lessons from nature, land managers can adaptively minimize disturbance, and maximize diversity, soil cover, and the presence of living roots. There is a great deal of critical work to be done to accelerate the adoption of practical, regenerative, soil health building, climate-smart production systems and beyond. I am excited to collaborate across the farming and ranching community, diverse organizations, and the American public to tap into the broader team’s bold ingenuity and innovation, so that we can take systems solutions and policy opportunities to the next level together,” said Moebius-Clune.
“The climate challenge is a win-win opportunity for all farmers and ranchers – the very same practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and sequester carbon are also those that can rebuild our great living and life-giving American soils’ ability to function fully. Let’s together, capture agriculture’s ability to mitigate flooding and drought losses, provide biodiversity and clean air and water, and feed and provide for a growing population, all while creating a productive, diverse, resilient and economically and socially viable livelihood for current and future farmers and ranchers.”
American Farmland Trust is the only national organization that takes a holistic approach to agriculture, focusing on the land itself, the agricultural practices used on that land, and the farmers and ranchers who do the work. AFT launched the conservation agriculture movement and continues to raise public awareness through our No Farms, No Food message. Since our founding in 1980, AFT has helped permanently protect over 6.8 million acres of agricultural lands, advanced environmentally-sound farming practices on millions of additional acres and supported thousands of farm families.