“I believe that we are on the cusp on the next revolution in agriculture. It is a revolution from agriculture being a net source to a net sink of greenhouse gas emissions. And it’s also a revolution from being an input intensive system to a knowledge intensive system.”
—Britt Lundgren, Stonyfield
Part 1: The next revolution
- Katherine DiMatteo, STFA, introduces the panelists.
- Britt Lundgren, Stonyfield, explains how agriculture can shift from being a climate change contributor, to being part of the solution.
- The benefit of full-scale Life Cycle Analysis (LCA).
- Stonyfield is supporting Farm OS, an open source, decision support platform to help farmers get the tools they need to build soil health and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
- Grounding principles to think about when starting to tackle climate change issues in your business.
Part 2: Carbon farming practices
Highlights from Albert Straus, Straus Family Creamery:
- Straus addresses how his company is creating a sustainability model for other organic farms to be able to use and implement.
- Straus explains some of the company's carbon farming practices such as composting, hedge rows, windbreaks and electric trucks powered by waste.
- How carbon farming practices can help farmers economically.
- Helping more farms use carbon farming practices by creating financial incentives.
Part 3: Climate impact in a larger supply chain
Highlights from Gero Leson, Dr. Bronner’s:
- Leson talks about how to get suppliers to support carbon farming practices.
- How Dr. Bronner’s integrated organic smallholder farmers into the supply chain before there were fair trade standards in place.
- Focus on soil productivity through implementing composting, mulching, soil coverage and better farm management will significantly increase yields.
- The importance of focusing on regenerative agriculture for tree and field crops.
- If you want to change the behavior of smallholder farmers in the tropics, you need to speak to the economic advantages and the reduction of toxic chemical exposure.
Part 4: The value of data
Highlights from Daniella Malin, Sustainable Food Lab:
- Malin speaks to the value of data and how seeing the numbers is a key way to inspire and motivate others to choose a sustainable agroforestry model.
- The happy correlation between sequestering carbon in the atmosphere and helping farmers financially.
- The farmers know how to build good soil; they just don’t know how to get paid doing it.
- Unilever, a major player in agriculture, created the Cool Farm Alliance to give suppliers free tools to implement changes and achieve significant reductions in greenhouse gases.
- A quick look at the Cool Farm Tool (CFT).
Part 5: Using tools to quantify impact
Highlights from Keith Paustian, Colorado State University:
- Paustian discusses how agriculture has significant challenges in measuring carbon impact.
- An overview of the COMET-Farm Tool and how it works to provide farm-scale greenhouse gas quantification.
- COMET-Farm workflow is easy to use and specifically designed for non-experts such as farmers and ranchers.
- Current applications of COMET-Farm Tool for USDA, conservation programs and private businesses to look at sustainability metrics for their agricultural products.
Part 6: Motivation and connection
- Panelists discuss what motivates farmers to participate in carbon farming practices.
- Ninety-five percent of farmers transition to organic farming because of financial needs.
- The premium price gets farmers interested, but they also want to be apart of community building, increasing yields and eliminating toxicity.
- How companies can start evaluating their greenhouse gas emissions in order to have a positive impact.
- Two important questions for companies to consider when starting out: 1. Where are my relationships with farmers the strongest, and, 2. what do I know already about where my largest impacts are?
- How can the tools help companies that have no connection with their suppliers and farmers?
- Why companies need to forge relationships with their suppliers if they want to have a positive impact on climate change.
Part 7: Audience Q&A
- How do younger farmers who want to use sustainable practices get access to farmland and be able to afford land?
- The issue of succession and how to get young farmers interested in taking on this work and working their family’s land.
- Why aren’t there more economic incentives for smallholder farmers to switch to carbon farming methods?
- The failure of policy to support taking carbon out of the atmosphere. There is also a distrust in carbon sequestration and if it is a viable investment for investors.
- The anonymity of carbon markets and how giving individuals and companies more knowledge and connection to the impact they are having could give additional incentive.
- What are the bottlenecks for farmers to overcome financial barriers to transition to carbon farming methods?
- Specific organizations and trusts that are helping inset upfront expenses for farmers.
This session—Climate Day, Digging into Carbon Farming—was recorded at Natural Products Expo West 2018.