The CaRPE Tool™ Gives State and Federal Policy Makers the Opportunity to ‘Seize the Carbon’: Reducing Carbon Emissions Through Agriculture - American Farmland Trust

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The CaRPE Tool™ Gives State and Federal Policy Makers the Opportunity to ‘Seize the Carbon’: Reducing Carbon Emissions Through Agriculture

As states across the nation work to meet their net-zero targets, goals can be met sooner by incentivizing farmers and ranchers to transition to climate-smart systems 

Washington, D.C.American Farmland Trust today released its updated CaRPE Tool™ and the first of a series of briefs to help states estimate greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction opportunities from the implementation of climate-smart cropland and grazing land management practices. The tool and state-specific briefs, which summarize the carbon benefits of climate-smart practices and provide state and federal policy recommendations to increase their adoption, are now available. These briefs are designed to help policy makers and land managers prioritize efforts for cost-effective climate benefits available from the agricultural sector.

By some estimates, as much as one-third of the carbon in our atmosphere could be returned to the soil by increasing adoption of climate-smart farming systems worldwide. And with 10 percent of the planet’s arable land, the United States can make a global difference by doing so. Drawing carbon from the air and storing it in agricultural soils offers an immediately available, low-cost, and proven way to address climate change and offset emissions to reach net-zero. No other solution to climate change comes with more of the co-benefits we need for a sustainable future: resilient, viable, productive farms and ranches with improved bottom lines and lower risk; food security; flood control; improved water quality and quantity; biodiversity; and wildlife habitat, above and below ground.

“States across the U.S. are moving urgently to implement strategies that reduce emissions in pursuit of net-zero through policy change, renewable energy infrastructure build out and electric vehicle mandates. The reauthorization of the federal Farm Bill is just around the corner,” said Bianca Moebius-Clune PhD, AFT Climate Initiative Director. “Agriculture is an immediately available, affordable, and necessary tool to reduce emissions and solve the climate crisis and deploying it is a win-win for producers and society. Leaving these opportunities on the table does not make sense, yet it has not been easy to determine what implementing agricultural solutions will cost and what benefits they will bring. In answering those questions, CaRPE Tool™ has been a game changer.”

“The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has emphasized how we need to not only reduce future emissions, but we also need to remove existing CO2 from the atmosphere,” said Bonnie McGill PhD, AFT Senior Climate and Soil Health Scientist. “Agriculture is one of the few sectors that can do that relatively inexpensively.”

“Farmers and ranchers are on the frontlines of climate change, and yet they also may be the key to offer one of the best pathways available to address the climate crisis while building their resilience to extreme weather and improving their bottom lines,” said Samantha Levy, AFT’s Conservation and Climate Policy Manager. “But making changes in their management systems may pose additional risk in an already risky business. We’re about to head into the reauthorization of the Farm Bill and states’ 2023 legislative sessions. Federal and state governments are well poised right now to build on actions they have already taken and provide more of the financial and technical assistance that farmers and ranchers need to transition to long-term adoption of proven, locally adapted, successful climate-smart practices.”

The climate-smart state-specific briefs provide recommendations to state leaders and elected officials on how to advance policies and programs to increase the adoption of these critical systems. In addition, they demonstrate how adoption of these practices can contribute to state and national climate emissions reduction goals.

The first in this series published today are for Virginia, Illinois, New Hampshire and Oregon where great opportunities to adopt policies to advance the adoption of climate smart systems of practices exist. AFT will also release a brief for Michigan that focuses on 2023 Farm Bill recommendations to complement these state-level actions. Full reports providing more detailed methods and results that informed the briefs will be released soon. AFT expects to release more state-specific briefs with emissions reductions estimates from the adoption of climate smart practices, and recommendations for how state policy makers can work to support farmers in increasing adoption.

The CaRPE Tool™ has been available from AFT since fall of 2020 and used by states to build working lands solutions into climate mitigation plans and state soil health efforts. Recent updates to the tool allow users to view data by USDA Farm Resource Regions (in addition to seeing results by counties and states) and get the weighted emission reduction coefficient (county and practice-specific tonnes of CO2e per acre per year) for their scenarios and map these coefficients, among other updates.

Information on the free, publicly available CaRPE Tool™ and how to access it can be found here. State-specific briefs can be found here. AFT’s 2023 Farm Bill platform can be found here. For assistance in using the tool please reach out to the AFT climate team


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.    

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