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November 5th, 2020

Transforming Agriculture Requires All Players and All Farmers

This is the third blog post in a series of four outlining the reasons – scientific, economic, and social – why regenerative agricultural should be included in the suite of solutions we pursue as a society to solve the climate crisis. We need agriculture to help mitigate climate change, and agriculture needs regenerative practices to become more resilient to the environmental and economic impacts of climate change. And we need everyone in agriculture – from small to large farms, individual farmers to corporations – to implement regenerative practices at the scale needed to make a difference.

Food and farming are fundamental to our future. We need farmers and ranchers of all types—those who produce commodities and those who raise specialty crops, larger entities that only grow a few crops and small diversified producers. We also need the large food and agricultural corporations that buy products from these producers and that supply them with inputs. We need all these players—food and agriculture corporations, farmers and ranchers, non-operating landowners, state and federal government entities, NGOs, and more–if we are to effectively combat climate change.

That means that markets and incentives need to work for all farmers and ranchers, regardless of size. And that, in turn, means taking extra steps to ease the burden of quantification and program navigation for small producers. Along with a renewed interest in agriculture over the last several years has come a brand-new crop of small farmers from diverse backgrounds that need programs and resources applicable to their experiences in order to get off on the right foot.

The bottom line is that we can’t expect farmers and ranchers to provide a wide range of environmental services if they are not compensated for doing so.

At the same time, we see the value—and need—in trying to work with everyone. Let Big Ag come along and join in. Many big corporations ARE doing the right thing, trying to support better farming practices through market mechanisms.  We need such mechanisms—along with increased funding through the Farm Bill’s Conservation Title.

The bottom line is that we can’t expect farmers and ranchers to provide a wide range of environmental services if they are not compensated for doing so—either through market mechanisms, the Farm Bill, or ideally, the right combination of both. Though it’s wonderful that so many farmers care deeply about the land and try to do what’s right by it, there’s a limit to what they can do without support. And of course, a farm cannot do anything to improve the environment if it goes out of business.

Farmers and ranchers need our support. Let’s cultivate all the farmers and ranchers who steward the land well, and would love to do even more, by compensating them for vital environmental services that our planet desperately needs.

In short, let’s help farmers and ranchers succeed as climate champions. For all our sake.  

Read Other Blogs in This Series

Learn more about the reasons – scientific, economic, and social – why regenerative agriculture should be included in the suite of solutions we pursue as a society to solve the climate crisis.

Top photo credit: USDA Photo by Preston Keres