Climate Initiative - American Farmland Trust

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Climate Initiative

Growing solutions and resilience to climate change

AFT is committed to making U.S. agriculture climate neutral. To do so, we are elevating the role of farmers, ranchers, and the land they manage in adapting to and mitigating the effects of climate change. From policy leadership, coalition building, and training, to research and on-the-ground demonstration projects, we are working to scale up the adoption of diverse, climate-smart, and soil health-promoting agricultural systems. This will ensure a prosperous and resilient future for farmers and the land that sustains us.

For America’s farmers, climate change is a daily reality. The climate crisis threatens farmers’ ability to nourish a growing human population while protecting our nation’s air, water, soil, and biodiversity.

To keep planetary warming well below 2°C as outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, conserving farmland, increasing the amount of carbon sequestered, and reducing agricultural greenhouse gas (GHG), emissions are essential to mitigate climate change and increase climate resiliency.

According to the IPCC, every sector has a part to play to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. This includes the agricultural sector, where farmers’ and ranchers’ management decisions play a significant role. AFT supports farmers to adopt soil health practices that increase the amount of carbon sequestered in their soils, take action to reduce GHG emissions, permanently protect their farmland with a conservation easement, and host Smart Solar systems. The good news is that the systems of practices that reduce net GHG emissions also improve farmers’ bottom lines and build on-farm resilience to extreme weather while providing many ecosystem services, or co-benefits, for society. This includes water quality and quantity, biodiversity, and increased climate adaptation and resilience.

Bottom line? At AFT, we believe farmers and ranchers have been, and will continue to be, an essential part of the climate solution.

“Healthy soil structure from a reduced-till organic grain farm in New Jersey. (Photo by Caro Roszell)”

AFT was awarded a $30 million USDA Partnership for Climate-Smart Commodities on transitioning to climate-neutral beef and is a partner on three more CSCPs.

We are working to advance sustainable biochar production and use as a climate-smart tool in the soil health management systems toolbox.

Our Conquering Cover Crop Challenges from Coast to Coast project is underway showcasing solutions to adoption barriers.

We are partnering with Regrow to advance soil health mapping and modeling for corn grain, corn silage, soy, wheat, almonds, grapes, and hops.

We are building a collection of state reports that estimate how much the state’s farmers can contribute to climate mitigation goals, and provide policy recommendations to get there.

AFT is working to support more farmers in building resilience and mitigating climate change in the 2023 Farm Bill.

Interested in the greenhouse gas benefit of avoided farmland conversion? So are we! We’ve completed a case study for a farm in Illinois, and we are developing a method for calculating this for ag conservation easements in the lower 48 states.

Our report, “Combatting Climate Change on U.S. Cropland,” focuses on the significant potential of no-till and cover crop practices to increase soil carbon sequestration and reduce nitrous oxide emissions for a net reduction in GHG emissions.

We published an opinion piece “Hope after WV vs. EPA.”

Our Strategies

The scale of climate change is global. The time to act is now! We look to communities, organizations, governments, broader society, and individuals to make this future a reality. We need everyone at the table – from small to large farms, individual farmers and ranchers, and industry – to take bold actions that make a difference for our climate future. At AFT, we take a holistic approach to support all farmers and ranchers and the land they manage—all scales and types of operations—to improve the ecological, social, and economic conditions of farms, ranches, and communities. Our work centers on providing support to farmers and ranchers in the field, quantifying and analyzing the impacts of their actions, and developing and advocating for programs and policies that will support more of these actions. These approaches are interwoven throughout our three key strategies below to help the agricultural community solve and build resilience to climate change:

Our Climate Work

The Rapidan River flows past Madison Mills in Orange County, Va., on July 21, 2017. (Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program with aerial support by Southwings)

AFT’s climate work is deeply intertwined with our other efforts to keep land in farming, keep farmers on the land, bring a diverse new generation onto the land, and promote sound farming practices at the regional and national scale. We focus on integrated approaches to mitigate climate change and enhance climate resiliency.

We are committed to creating an inclusive environment where diverse voices are active in all aspects of our climate efforts. You can learn more about our DEIJ statement here.

Meet Our Team

Have a question, suggestion, or want to partner with us? We’d love to hear from you. Send us an email at

Climate Projects & Initiatives

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