August 2018


EDITOR’S NOTE: Welcome to the latest edition of NACSAA News, a monthly compilation of “Featured News;” “NACSAA in Action,” including updates on Alliance actions; “Other News We Are Reading,” a listing of news stories from other sources we think you will find of interest; and “Partner News and Events.” We hope this newsletter will serve to keep you, your members and other constituencies fully engaged in the growing development of climate-smart agriculture policy, programs and practices. Your feedback is welcome and appreciated. To share your thoughts and/or subscribe, email

Featured News

Soil Health Institute, U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance Join NACSAA


The Soil Health Institute (SHI) and the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) have joined the North American Climate Smart Agriculture Alliance.


As an independent, nonprofit organization charged with coordinating and supporting soil stewardship and advancing soil health, the SHI is focused on fundamental and applied research and ensuring its adoption. Institute leaders say they recognize that soil health must emerge as the cornerstone of land use management decisions throughout the world during the 21st century, because healthy soil is the foundation of life and society.


The institute’s most recent contribution to the development of soil health policy is the publication of a catalog that brings together the policy efforts undertaken by academic institutions, state agencies and legislative bodies across the nation (see following story).


The institute says enhancing soil health allows for the improvement of water quality, an increase in drought resilience, the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, the improvement of farm economies and the provision of pollinator habitat.


The institute aims to better position U.S. agriculture to feed the 9.7 billion people expected in the world by 2050. The SHI program is designed to move scientific knowledge and technology from the research laboratory to the farm field by bringing together traditional and non-traditional agricultural industry partners, farmers, ranchers, government agencies, scientists, and consumers to focus on one common, clear goal: protecting and enriching our soils.


The USFRA consists of more than 90 farmer- and rancher-led organizations and partners representing virtually all aspects of agriculture. The alliance focuses on working to engage in dialogue with consumers who have questions about how today’s food is grown and raised.


USFRA officials say their organization is committed to continuous improvement and supporting the efforts of U.S. farmers and ranchers to increase confidence and trust in today’s agriculture.


The alliance’s goals include:

  • Enhancing consumer trust in the U.S. food production system.
  • Maintaining and enhancing the freedom of U.S. farmers and ranchers to operate in a responsible manner.
  • Strengthening collaboration within the food production, processing and distribution systems.

The USFRA recently established the Sustainability Officers Council to provide food companies with access to the farmer and rancher perspective. Alliance leaders say the food industry makes new product claims, procurement and sourcing decisions daily to appease consumer demands, without consulting farmers and ranchers. As more companies shift sourcing decisions, citing sustainability goals at the heart of their efforts, the end result could be fundamental changes in farming structures.


The six-member council will participate in conversations with food companies and retailers, offering data, research and knowledge about modern agricultural practices on today’s farms and ranches.


To provide additional resources and information for food companies, and further showcase the sustainable farming and ranching practices taking place today, USFRA created a website at The website is a valuable resource which includes the alliance’s Agriculture in America Sustainability Report, infographics, sustainability-focused videos and more.


Soil Health Policy Resources Now Available


Soil health policies are growing in number and importance across the United States but are widely dispersed across a variety of academic institutions, state agencies and legislative bodies. A Soil Health Institute catalog brings the policy efforts together to facilitate cross-pollination, learning and coordination.


Developed by the Soil Health Institute (SHI) Policy Action Team, the comprehensive online catalog of soil health policies aims to help agricultural leaders find action-focused resources quickly. The institute’s mission is to safeguard and enhance the vitality and productivity of soil through scientific research and advancement.


“Sustainable solutions start with local and regional stakeholders communicating and making change,” said Jamie Fanous, graduate research assistant at Tufts University and member of the SHI Policy Action Team. “I hope this catalog will encourage local communication among academic, state agency and legislative stakeholders to improve soil health.”


The catalog is organized by the following components:

  • Academic [education, research programs and resources]
  • State Agency [grants, financial incentives and technical assistance]
  • Legislative [summary of current bills, their purpose and status]

Contact information is provided to facilitate follow-up with the coordinating entity.


“This catalog serves as a very helpful resource for anyone interested in developing state-level soil health policies and programs, allowing them to learn and build from what others have already done,” added Rob Myers, SHI Policy Team co-chair and regional director for North Central USDA-Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (USDA-SARE).


“The sheer number of academic, agency and legislative efforts is a powerful display of the growing momentum of the soil health movement,” added Wayne Honeycutt, president and CEO of the Soil Health Institute.


Among those providing leadership in developing the catalogue were Jamie Fanous and Timothy Griffin of Tufts University, and Rob Myers of USDA-SARE.


The Policy Action Team is seeking from stakeholders help in identifying additional academic programs, state agency efforts and legislative initiatives related to soil health. Suggested policy efforts can by submitted through a form available at the bottom of the institute’s catalogue web page.


The institute works with its stakeholders to identify gaps in research and adoption; develop strategies, networks and funding to address those gaps; and ensure beneficial impact of those investments to agriculture, the environment and society.


To provide additional resources and information for food companies, and further showcase the sustainable farming and ranching practices taking place today, USFRA created a website at The site is a valuable resource that includes our Agriculture in America Sustainability Report, infographics, sustainability-focused videos and more.


Purdue Univ Report: Successful Farming Depends on Our Climate


Indiana has long been one of the nation’s leaders in agricultural productivity. Favorable temperatures and precipitation help Indiana farmers generate over $31 billion worth of sales per year, making the state 11th in total agricultural products sold.


According to a report released this week by the Indiana Climate Change Impacts Assessment (IN CCIA) at Purdue University, changes to the state’s climate over the coming decades, including increasing temperatures, changes in precipitation amounts and patterns, and rising levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air will result in several direct and indirect impacts to the state’s agricultural industry.


The report – Indiana’s Agriculture in a Changing Climate: A Report from the Indiana Climate Change Impacts Assessment – describes how projected changes in the state’s climate will affect the health of livestock and poultry, growing season conditions for crops, the types of crops that can be planted, soil health and water quality as well as weed, pest and disease pressure for agricultural production statewide.


Significant takeaways from this report include:


Key finding: Warmer overnight temperatures in Indiana have contributed to reduced corn yields over the last decade. Elevated overnight temperatures increase plant respiration, reducing sugar availability for grain production, and it can affect the timing and success of pollination- resulting in lower crop yield. Observations show that Indiana corn yields are reduced by about 2 percent for every 1-degree F increase in overnight temperatures during July.


Coping with change: Earlier planting or using varieties that more quickly reach maturity could help corn plants avoid summer heat stress during pollination. Breeding corn for traits that improve factors contributing to yield in warmer conditions, may also help offset the effect of warming  overnight temperatures.


Key finding: More frequent heat stress and a doubling of water deficits are expected to reduce Indiana corn yields, for current varieties, by 16 to 20 percent by mid-century. Soybean yields are expected to decline 9 to 11 percent.


Coping with change: Yield losses could be partially offset with changes in cropping systems, planting date, crop genetics, soil health, supplemental irrigation and/ or drainage management. Increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide may lessen yield losses in soybeans, and double-cropping of soybeans will become increasingly viable in southern Indiana.


Key finding: While Indiana’s frost-free season is expected to start about one month earlier by mid-century, average crop planting dates are not expected to significantly shift due to increased spring rainfall limiting early access to fields. Observations over the last 30 years show a declining number of days suitable for spring fieldwork in Indiana, and this trend is expected to continue.


Coping with change: Improving soil health with management practices that increase soil stability and water movement can help with managing additional spring rainfall. Fall-planted cereal crops that continue growing into early spring can aid in extracting excess soil water, potentially providing earlier field access. Investing in additional subsurface drainage and machinery suitable for wetter conditions may also improve field accessibility.


Key finding: The onset of winter dormancy in perennial trees and vine fruit, as signaled by the first killing frost, is projected to occur 10 days later in Indiana by mid-century. Warmer winter and spring temperatures will allow plants that have accumulated enough chilling hours to break dormancy up to 2 weeks earlier in the spring, meaning some fruit crops may begin flowering before the risk

of frost damage has ended. By mid-century, reduced chilling in some areas of Indiana may no longer meet the requirement for bud emergence for some varieties of apples, peaches and grapes.


Coping with change: Winter damage may be reduced, in part, by developing cultivars with improved dormancy that do not respond to brief winter and spring warm periods. A warming of Indiana’s coldest annual temperatures will expand the suitable range for peach, pluot and nectarine production and it may become possible to grow fruit that currently lacks hardiness for Indiana’s climate, like boysenberry and tayberry.


Key finding: Higher temperatures will put Indiana livestock at increased risk of heat stress, which can lead to reduced animal feed intake, productivity and fertility. By mid-century, the annual number of days with high temperatures above 86 degrees F, a critical threshold for livestock heat stress, is projected to double from 40 days per year to 80-100 days per year. The average duration of heat stress events is also expected to double.


Coping with change: Maintaining optimal micro-climates for confined feeding operations may require improved or expanded ventilation systems and increased energy, operating, and maintenance costs. Pasture-based systems may incur costs of additional shelters or other environmental buffers to protect animals from the increased frequency of weather extremes.


Key finding: Decreasing forage quality is a serious threat to Indiana livestock and poultry. Warmer temperatures will decrease plant protein content and increase neutral detergent fiber levels in certain legumes, including alfalfa, affecting animal growth and milk production. Variable winter conditions may also affect overall forage quantity.


Coping with change: Despite their climate sensitivity, C3-photosynthetic legumes still provide better quality forage than C4 grasses because the very high fiber, low intake and poor digestibility of C4 plants severely limit animal performance.


Key finding: Increasing winter and spring precipitation will result in about a 30 to 50 percent increase in spring subsurface tile drainflow in Indiana by mid-century. These shifts will likely lead to nutrient loss from farm fields, and some existing drains may be overwhelmed by the higher flows.


Coping with change: Implementing in-field and edge-of- field conservation practices can reduce nutrient losses. Capturing drainflow during the non-growing season could become more effective as the timing of peak drainflow is projected to occur earlier in the winter and spring. Increased use of winter cereal crops, like rye, that capture nutrients and transpire water may help with managing water-stressed  fields.


Key finding: Warming temperatures have the potential to increase rates of soil organic matter decomposition in Indiana by about 50 percent by mid-century, which can reduce infiltration and soil water holding capacity and increase the release of carbon dioxide and nitrogen gases from the soil into the atmosphere.


Coping with change: Adopting management practices that improve overall soil quality, such as increasing plant diversity and use of cover crops and reduced/no- till systems, can help maintain soil organic matter even as temperatures warm.


Key finding: Warmer winters, wetter springs and hotter summers may result in increasing weed, pest and disease pressure on Indiana’s agricultural production. These indirect influences are complex, difficult to predict and can be positively or negatively affected by farm management decisions.


Coping with change: With no change to current cropping systems, producers of all crops will likely need to increase foliar pesticide and herbicide applications, increasing the risk of pesticide resistance. Pest disease damage may be reduced by selecting plant species with increased insect and disease resistance.


The findings presented in the report are based primarily on an IN CCIA Agriculture Working Group technical report, and the IN CCIA report Indiana’s Past and Future Climate.


Four Major Food Companies Launch Sustainable Food Policy Alliance


Four of the nation’s largest food companies have launched the Sustainable Food Policy Alliance, an organization focused on driving progress in public policies that shape what people eat and how it impacts their health, communities and the planet, the latter including the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.


Founding member companies include Danone North America; Mars, Incorporated; Nestlé USA; and Unilever United States.


The four founding member companies have already made broad updates to their portfolios in recent years, collectively and voluntarily advancing issues like sodium reduction, responsible marketing and transparency, and reducing their impact on the planet, including cutting greenhouse gas emissions.


As the Sustainable Food Policy Alliance (Alliance), member companies will prioritize U.S. public policy advocacy and action in five key areas:

  • Environment: Advocating for innovative, science-based solutions to take action against the costly impacts of climate change, build more resilient communities, promote renewable energy, and further develop sustainable agriculture systems.
  • Consumer Transparency: Improving the quality and accessibility of information available to consumers about the food they purchase for themselves and their families.
  • Food Safety: Ensuring the quality and safety of food products and the global supply chain.
  • Nutrition: Developing and advocating for policies that help people make better-informed food choices that contribute to healthy eating while supporting sustainable environmental practices.
  • People and Communities: Advancing policies that promote a strong, diverse, and healthy workplace and support the supply chain, including rural economies.

At launch, two important policy areas the Alliance intends to engage on include: nutrition labeling and carbon emissions.


The Alliance supports a comprehensive update of the definition of terms important for people, like “healthy,” including strong, science-based regulations on how these terms can be used on food packages and in marketing. The updates will help consumers make better choices for themselves and their families, the alliance said in a media release.


The Alliance will also work to advance climate policies that are impactful for the environment, while accounting for the specific business imperatives of supply chains, including farmers, ranchers, and other producers. This will include:

  • Urging U.S. policymakers to ensure the Farm Bill and other farm policies reflect the pressing need to increase the scale of actions to address water quality and water conservation issues, focus on improving soil health, and expand the deployment of renewable energy, particularly wind and solar. The Farm Bill should leverage all available tools, including research and public-private partnerships such as the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), to make smart investments in conservation and sustainability.
  • Exploring the economics of sustainability, including financial incentives to reduce emissions and transition to low-carbon alternatives, with a particular focus on ways to create value for farmers, ranchers, and others who are implementing leading-edge practices to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Advocating on behalf of smart, comprehensive energy and environmental policies at the state, national, and international levels, including the Paris Climate Agreement, the Clean Power Plan or other commitments that result in change necessary to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in line with what evidence-based science says is necessary.

In a joint statement, Mariano Lozano, CEO, Danone North America; Tracey Massey, president, Mars Wrigley Confectionery Americas; Steve Presley, chairman and CEO, Nestlé USA; and Amanda Sourry, president, Unilever North America said:


“The Sustainable Food Policy Alliance was founded on the principle that food companies can and should be doing more to lead and drive positive policy action for the people who buy and enjoy the foods and beverages we make, the people who supply them, and the planet on which we all rely.


“As an Alliance, we commit first and foremost to leading by example. Each member company has independently proven a willingness to advocate for the long-term interests of the people who farm and supply our raw materials, and people who make and consume our products.


“We are committed to a collaborative approach and to listen and learn about issues affecting all parts of our food system from the field to the store shelf and beyond. We understand that we don’t have all the answers and will rely on the best available evidence-based science to inform our positions. We will be transparent about how we reach our decisions and what we hope to achieve.


“With so many pressing food policy opportunities on the horizon, now is the time to help steer America’s food policy and our food system on a better path for long-term success.”


Alliance leaders say they seek to accelerate the pace of change in the food industry through individual company leadership and collective support for public policies that raise the bar and inspire further action in this critical journey.


They also say that as representatives of some of the world’s best-known food companies, the firms “recognize our responsibility to drive positive change for the people who use our products, the people who supply them, and the planet on which we all rely.”


To learn more about the Sustainable Food Policy Alliance, visit


FAO Offers CSA Sourcebook to Guide Policy Makers, Program Managers


A digitized sourcebook that offers a wide range of knowledge and expertise on the concept of Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) is among a series of products put out by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in recent months.


The CSA sourcebook is a resource that can better guide policy makers, program managers, sectoral experts, academics, extensionists, as well as practitioners to make the agricultural sectors (crops, livestock, fisheries and forestry) more sustainable and productive, while responding to the challenges of climate change and food security.


FAO published the first edition of the sourcebook in 2013, a few years after the concept of CSA was launched at the 2010 Hague Conference on Food Security, Agriculture and Climate Change.


The new, fully revised digital platform edition of the CSA Sourcebook reflects new scientific insights, as well as valuable CSA implementation experience obtained since the publication of the first edition.


Five new modules were added: Climate change adaptation and mitigation; Integrated production systems; Supporting rural producers with knowledge of Climate-Smart Agriculture; The role of Gender in Climate-Smart Agriculture; and The theory of change for the CSA approach: a guide to evidence-based implementation at the country level.


Furthermore, the 18 existing modules were completely revised, restructured and updated in the three main sections of the Sourcebook: Concept, Production and Resources, and Enabling Frameworks. Similar to the process of creating the 2013 first edition, the update involved inputs from across FAO’s technical units, as well as numerous external partners and experts.


On the digital platform, the Sourcebook will become a “living” document in which any section or module can be updated when needed to reflect the evolving scientific insights and practical experience in CSA. Suggestions for resources to include can be sent to


The FAO also offers a CSA Sourcebook Summary Booklet, a printable version that provides an overview of the digital edition.


Also available is a printable three-page infographic that can serve to introduce potential stakeholders to the concept of Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) The visual product includes the definition of CSA, the description of the three CSA pillars, and a graphic depicting the five actions for implementation.


The FAO says other products, which are expected to be launched at global climate conference in Poland this December 2018 (COP24), include a CSA video for policy makers, and five new CSA E-learning modules that are related to topics in the CSA Sourcebook Second Edition. The E-learning courses will cover several production areas, including soil and land management; integrated crop production; livestock; water management; and an introduction to CSA.

Also coming is a new compilation of successful CSA Case Studies published in a regional context.


‘America’s Pledge’ Outlines Agenda for U.S. State, City, Biz Climate Action


A road map for bottom-up action by businesses, cities and states across ten sectors to reduce U.S. carbon emissions has been released by the America’s Pledge initiative.


Opportunity Agenda offers collaborative strategies can significantly reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the near term, in the absence of federal government policy.


Under the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, America’s Pledge called for reductions in U.S. GHG emissions by 26-28 percent against a 2005 baseline by 2025. So far, the United States has reduced its emissions by 12 percent, leaving 14-16 percent to be achieved over the next eight years.


By contrast, the combined emissions from the sectors of the economy targeted by the road map account for 70 percent of U.S. carbon dioxide or equivalent GHG emissions, leaving robust untapped potential for real-economy, bottom up climate action to close the gap, the group says.


“Around the world, bottom-up climate action is making significant, tangible progress towards a global, low-carbon future,” said UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa. “This is especially true at the local and regional levels because cities, states and businesses recognize the importance of enacting climate-friendly initiatives. This initiative will strengthen climate action and act as an example to other actors globally on what can and should be done to achieve our global the Paris Agreement’s climate goals.”


Co-chaired by former New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and California Governor Edmund G. “Jerry” Brown, Jr., the America’s Pledge initiative was formed in response to President Trump’s announced intent to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change. It is committed to quantifying and reporting on how the actions of ambitious U.S. cities, states and businesses can compensate for federal inaction by addressing GHG emissions through high-impact policies and action in key sectors.


“While the federal government ignores the existential threat of climate change, people across America are stepping up to drive down greenhouse gas emissions,” Brown said “This is profoundly important.”


The ten high-impact opportunities outlined in the Opportunity Agenda are:

  1. Doubling down on renewable energy
  2. Accelerating retirement of coal power
  3. Retrofitting buildings for energy efficiency
  4. Electrifying building energy use
  5. Accelerating electric vehicle adoption
  6. Phasing out super-polluting hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)
  7. Preventing methane leaks at the wellhead
  8. Reducing methane leaks in cities
  9. Reducing land sector carbon emissions and increasing terrestrial sequestration
  10. Establishing and expanding state and regional carbon markets

“Even as Washington has abdicated its role as a climate leader, American cities, states, businesses, and others are taking concrete actions that reduce emissions and benefit our health, economy, and environment,” said Bloomberg. “The America’s Pledge Opportunity Agenda is designed to help each of these groups expand their ambitions and accelerate their progress. And it shows the world that the American people remain committed to fulfilling our commitments under the Paris Agreement.”


Bottom-up climate progress has already taken the United States almost half way to its Paris pledge, and the pace of such progress continues to accelerate. The group says that since the first anniversary of President Trump’s announcement of withdrawal from the Paris Agreement – just six weeks ago – remarkable progress has been made, including the announced retirements of two coal-fired power plants, including one of Michigan’s most polluting plants; a planned $25 million solar project in Albuquerque, NM, to increase the city’s renewable consumption from 3 percent to 25 percent by this September; new legislation in New Jersey requiring utilities to procure 50 percent clean energy by 2030, and similar new policies in Virginia doubling renewable energy and tripling energy efficiency investments.


Today’s Opportunity Agenda previews a more complete analysis set to be released in September at the Global Climate Action Summit by America’s Pledge Co-Chairs Bloomberg and Brown, the group said. Each of the ten opportunity areas highlighted today will be analyzed in the 2018 U.S. Report on Bottom Up Climate Action, which will estimate the emissions reductions associated with specific, ambitious policies and actions that can be taken by U.S. cities, states and businesses in the near-term, without relying on the federal government. The September report will compare the impact of the measures to the U.S. Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement, which called for a reduction of emissions of at least 26 percent below 2005 levels by the year 2025.


California Climate Pollutants Fall Below 1990 Levels for First Time


The California Air Resources Board (CARB) says greenhouse gas pollution in the state fell below 1990 levels for the first time since emissions peaked in 2004 – an achievement roughly equal to taking 12 million cars off the road or saving 6 billion gallons of gasoline a year.


The findings show California exceeded the state’s 2020 emission-reduction goal four years ahead of schedule.



“California set the toughest emissions targets in the nation, tracked progress and delivered results,” said Gov. Jerry Brown. “The next step is for California to cut emissions below 1990 levels by 2030 – a heroic and very ambitious goal.”


Under Assembly Bill 32 passed in 2006, California was required to reduce its emissions to 1990 levels (431 million metric tons) by 2020. The 2016 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory published today shows that California emitted 429 million metric tons of climate pollutants in 2016 – a drop of 12 million metric tons, or three percent, from 2015.


Senate Bill 32, signed in 2016, requires the state to go even further than AB 32 and cut emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 – the most ambitious carbon goal in North America.


“In California we see the impacts of climate change all around us, but our efforts to curb its worst impacts are on track. We are well positioned to meet the challenge of the 2030 target,” said CARB Chair Mary Nichols. “This is great news for the health of Californians, the state’s environment and its economy, even as we face the failure of our national leadership to address climate change.”


The state’s annual emissions inventory helps keep the state accountable for meeting its emissions reduction targets. Highlights from the inventory published last month include:

  • Carbon pollution dropped 13 percent statewide since a 2004 peak; meanwhile the economy grew 26 percent.
  • Per capita emissions continue to be among the lowest in the country. They fell 23 percent from a peak of 14 metric tons per person (roughly equal to driving 34,000 miles) in 2001 to 10.8 metric tons per person in 2016 (roughly equal to driving 26,000 miles). That is approximately half as much as the national average.
  • Carbon pollution dropped 3 percent between 2015 and 2016 – roughly equal to taking 2.4 million cars off the road or saving 1.5 billion gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel.
  • The “carbon intensity” of California’s economy – the amount of carbon pollution emitted per $1 million of gross state product – dropped 38 percent since the 2001 peak and is now one-half the national average.
  • California now produces twice as many goods and services for the same amount of greenhouse gas emissions as the rest of the nation.

Electricity generation had the largest decline among the sectors. Emissions from the sector declined 18 percent in 2016, reflecting continued growth in renewable energy – such as solar, wind and geothermal – as a result of the state’s Renewables Portfolio Standard, and a corresponding drop in natural gas generation. Solar electricity in all forms, including rooftop generation, grew 33 percent, while natural gas fell more than 15 percent.


State officials note that the carbon price signal created by California’s Cap-and-Trade Program makes fossil fuel generation more expensive, and cleaner, out-of-state electricity is increasingly taking the place of fuels such as coal. The influx included more imports of hydroelectric power from outside the state, which grew by nearly 39 percent in 2016 thanks to abundant rainfall throughout the West Coast.


“Emissions may vary from year-to-year depending on the weather and other factors,” said CARB Executive Officer Richard Corey. “However, this inventory demonstrates that our policies are working to incentivize GHG-free energy sources and ensure the state remains on track to meet its climate targets in 2020 and beyond.”


The transportation sector, the state’s largest source of greenhouse gases, saw a 2-percent increase in emissions in 2016 because of increased fuel consumption. But the state also saw cars and trucks use a record amount of biofuels – 1.5 billion gallons in all – as a result of the state’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard. These low-carbon alternative fuels, consisting mostly of biodiesel, renewable diesel, and ethanol, avoided 14 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere, compared to what would have happened if conventional fossil fuels had been used.


Emissions from the industrial sector – including refineries, oil and gas extraction, cement plants, and other stationary sources – fell 2 percent from 2015 levels, though emissions from refineries increased slightly.


In addition to the Renewable Fuels and the Cap-and-Trade programs, the state’s other primary programs initiatives for reducing greenhouse gases to 1990 levels by 2020 are the Advanced Clean Cars Program and the Low Carbon Fuel Standard. Other programs, including the Short-Lived Climate Pollutants Strategy, the Sustainable Communities Strategy and the Sustainable Freight Action Plan, also address a variety of greenhouse gas sources.


The 2030 Scoping Plan, adopted by CARB last year, lays out how the initiatives work together to reduce greenhouse gases to achieve California’s 2030 target of 260 million metric tons and also to reduce smog-causing pollutants. This ambitious target will require California to more than double the rate at which it has been cutting climate-changing gases.


Future reductions will occur against a backdrop of natural sources of GHGs which are increasingly variable because of the climate change California is already witnessing. Those variables include drought, reduced snowmelt runoff and larger and hotter wildfires, any one of which can affect the state’s energy balance and emissions levels.



NACSAA in Action

Yoder Speaks at DC Forum on Resilient Agriculture


NACSAA Chair Fred Yoder spoke on the role of Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) last month at an agricultural resiliency forum in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the Environmental Defense Fund, National Corn Growers Association and Farm Journal Foundation.


Fred Yoder

The event, which was keynoted by former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, focused on market and policy innovations for resilient agriculture, a recurring theme echoed by each member of a panel called together to discuss strengthening the economic and environmental resilience of agriculture, and the emerging ideas and unexpected partnerships driving change on the farm and across the food system.


Yoder, who also serves as co-chair of Solutions from the Land, spoke on the role of CSA in meeting global sustainable development goals. He cited the three pillars of CSA – sustainably increasing agricultural productivity and livelihoods (i.e. sustainable intensification); enhancing adaptive capacity and improving resilience; and delivering ecosystem services, sequestering carbon, and reducing and/or avoiding greenhouse gas emissions.


Yoder also talked of the steps producers can take to adapt, become more sustainable and be valued for the ecosystems services they generate.

Other members of the panel included Chris Novak, CEO of the National Corn Growers Association; Lynn Tjeerdsma, senior policy advisor to Sen. John Thune (R-SD); Josette Lewis, associate vice president of sustainable agriculture at Environmental Defense Fund; and Stephanie Mercier, senior fellow at the Farm Journal Foundation.


Meanwhile, Yoder, NACSAA Steering Committee member Ray Gaesser, Eric Olson, senior vice president with BSR (Business for Social Responsibility), and SfL President Ernie Shea conducted in a series of climate-smart agriculture courtesy briefings with senior USDA officials. The group aimed to reinforce the importance of the work USDA’s research, education, conservation and risk management agencies perform in helping producers adapt to changing conditions.


Over the course of the day, the group met with Undersecretary Bill Northey, Risk Management Agency Administrator Martin Barbre, as well as with officials in the Foreign Agricultural Service and the Natural Resource Conservation Service. All were supportive of continuing the CSA work USDA has been doing for the past several years.


Shea also says plans for the upcoming Sept. 11-14 Global Climate Action Summit are beginning to take shape. He said the event is expected to have a strong focus on actions that can be taken to mitigate the impacts of climate change. In addition to two days of plenary events where fresh commitments in support of climate action will be made by subnational, corporate and NGO leaders, there will be multiple side events where participants will engage in sector specific dialogues.


The agriculture side event is set for September 11-12 and will focus on actions to scale up climate smart agriculture. The event will recognize and embrace the three-pillar approach to addressing climate related challenges and will highlight steps that producers can take to sustainably intensify production, improve resiliency and remove or reduce GHG emissions.


Summit organizers are encouraging the organizers to spotlight the soil health solution pathway.


Canadian Fertilizer Industry Poised to Lead Ag Industry in Reducing GHG


Canada has the opportunity to become a world leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions on-farms by helping growers become climate-smart, says

Fertilizer Canada, a North American Climate Smart Agriculture Alliance (NACSAA) partner.


The trade group has called on federal, provincial and territorial agriculture ministers to embrace climate smart agriculture as an opportunity to develop a Pan-Canadian framework for the sector that can contribute to the low-carbon economy and create revenue from carbon pricing systems across the country.


Fertilizer Canada says the reduction goal can be met through a national 4R Climate-Smart Protocol, also known as the Nitrous Oxide Emission Reduction Protocol (NERP). The 4R Climate-Smart Protocol is said to be an easily adaptable, science-based solution for Canada’s growers to optimize nitrogen management in their cropping systems and quantifiably demonstrate carbon reductions.


Implementing the 4R Climate-Smart Protocol, which incorporates 4R Nutrient Stewardship (Right Source, Right Rate, Right Time, Right Place®), increases economic performance for growers while reducing the input costs per unit of crop yield produced.


“Research has shown that if the Protocol was implemented across Western Canada, it would reduce nitrous oxide emissions by 1-2 megatons of carbon dioxide equivalents annually,” said Clyde Graham, senior vice president at Fertilizer Canada. “In addition to these tangible reductions in GHG emissions, a carbon credit would be issued to reward farmers for their environmental stewardship.”


Fertilizer Canada represents manufacturers, wholesale and retail distributors of nitrogen, phosphate, potash and sulphur fertilizers.


The trade group commissioned a report by Viresco Solutions to lay out a strategy for national implementation. The report indicates that the institutional platform necessary for a roll-out of the scale needed is in place. Now, Fertilizer Canada officials say, the coordinated effort to unleash the potential must begin.


4R researchers, experts, 4R practitioners and stakeholders are currently being mobilized across the country to implement a Pan-Canadian 4R Climate-Smart Protocol and update the science in accordance with the most recent nitrous oxide research on 4R practices. In addition to meeting international standards, this protocol has the potential to reduce GHG emissions on millions of acres.


“Fertilizer Canada stands ready to continue to work with the agriculture industry, as well as the Government of Canada on implementing this Canadian-made solution and positioning Canada as a world leader in environmental stewardship on-farms,” said Graham.


Fertilizer Canada says the industry plays an essential role in the country’s economy, contributing $23 billion in economic activity annually and more than 76,000 jobs. They say the association is committed to supporting the fertilizer industry with innovative research and programming, while advocating sustainability, stewardship, safety and security through standards and Codes of Practice.


Meanwhile, in the United States, Lara Moody, vice president of Stewardship and Sustainability Programs at The Fertilizer Institute (TFI), says her group has built on similar work begun more than six years ago, collaborating with the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI), a not-for-profit, science-based organization dedicated to the responsible management of plant nutrition.


The joint effort has resulted in a NERP-like quantification mechanism that is now being built into the Field to Market FieldPrint Calculator, an assessment tool that enables brands, retailers, suppliers and farmers to pursue sustainability by measuring the environmental impacts of commodity crop production – including nutrient application – and opportunities for continuous improvement.


Moody says N fertilizer practice tables, including basic, intermediate and advanced, have been developed for corn, soy and wheat production systems. The tables are currently being integrated into the calculator, along with the ability to use an initial coefficient to quantify emissions, which are based on specific land-resource regions, as opposed to the general 0.01 country-level coefficient set by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).



Other News We Are Reading…

This Summer’s Heat Waves Could Be the Strongest Climate Signal Yet

(Inside Climate News)


Earth’s global warming fever spiked to deadly new highs across the Northern Hemisphere this summer, and we’re feeling the results – extreme heat is now blamed for hundreds of deaths, droughts threaten food supplies, wildfires have raced through neighborhoods in the western United States, Greece and as far north as the Arctic Circle. At sea, record and near-record warm oceans have sent soggy masses of air surging landward, fueling extreme rainfall and flooding in Japan and the eastern U.S. In Europe, the Baltic Sea is so warm that potentially toxic blue-green algae is spreading across its surface. There shouldn’t be any doubt that some of the deadliest of this summer’s disasters – including flooding in Japan and wildfires in Greece – are fueled by weather extremes linked to global warming, said the director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research in the UK. Read more…


EPA Report Misses the Mark on Biofuels Impact

(Biofuels Digest)


Don Scott, director of sustainability, National Biodiesel Board, writes that EPA’s recently published Second Triennial Report to Congress on Biofuels and the Environment provides no meaningful conclusion on the net environmental benefits of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). What EPA’s report unfortunately does provide, however, is fodder for political pundits wishing to attack the program through selective quotes and perpetuation of myths, he says.


As EPA acknowledges, the report does not include a comparative assessment of biofuels and the environmental impacts of other transportation fuels, including fossil fuels. Nor does the report address lifecycle GHG benefits that were previously quantified by EPA. Also, EPA cannot separate impacts due to the RFS or biofuels from the impacts of other policy and market drivers. Those other drivers are stronger than the RFS, so it is inappropriate to report causality only to the RFS. And, EPA also fails to recognize real trends in agriculture that have the opposite impact on conservation and biodiversity. Read more…


Carbon intensity of US grid dropped by 30 Percent



A new method for computing the carbon intensity of the US electricity sector could make it simpler to assess emissions trends over different timescales and by region. Electricity generation results in over a quarter of all US greenhouse gas emissions, and deep decarbonization of the sector is closely linked to meeting climate targets.


Overall, the group based at Carnegie Mellon University, US, found that between 2001 and 2017 the average annual carbon dioxide emissions intensity of electricity production in the US decreased by 30%. The primary drivers for the change were an increase in generation from natural gas and wind accompanied by a reduction in coal-fired power.


Thanks to the switch from coal to gas, all US regions showed at least some decline in carbon intensity over the period. But markets can disrupt this pattern. In the first half of 2017, for example, the US natural gas price climbed from under $2 per GJ to over $3 per GJ, leading to an increase in coal generation. Where renewables are available, energy providers have more options. Read more…


California Revives 100-Percent Carbon-Free Energy Bill



California lawmakers on Tuesday revived a long-stalled proposal to set a goal of generating 100 percent of the state’s energy from carbon-free sources.


With other controversial and high-stakes energy legislation also moving forward, California lawmakers face an array of decisions with vast implications for the Western energy grid, the future of renewable power and consumers’ electric bills.


A state legislative committee sent the 100 percent clean energy bill to the full Assembly, setting up a vote later this year.


The bill would bump up California’s energy mandate, known as the renewable portfolio standard, from 50 percent to 60 percent by 2030. That energy would have to come from specific renewable resources including wind, solar, geothermal and small dams. Read more…



 Grasslands More Reliable Carbon Sink Than Trees in Wildfire-Prone California



Forests have long served as a critical carbon sink, consuming about a quarter of the carbon dioxide pollution produced by humans worldwide. But decades of fire suppression, warming temperatures and drought have increased wildfire risks – turning California’s forests from carbon sinks to carbon sources.


A study from the University of California, Davis, found that grasslands and rangelands are more resilient carbon sinks than forests in 21st century California. As such, the study indicates they should be given opportunities in the state’s cap-and-and trade market, which is designed to reduce California’s greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.


The findings, published in the journal

Environmental Research Letters, could inform similar carbon offset efforts around the globe, particularly those in semi-arid environments, which cover about 40 percent of the planet.

  Read more…


Supreme Court Denies Trump Admin Request to Halt Youth Climate Lawsuit

(The Hill)


The Supreme Court on Monday denied the Trump administration’s plea to halt proceedings in a landmark lawsuit by young people seeking stronger federal action on climate change.


While rejecting the government’s request to stop the discovery process of obtaining evidence and depositions, the High Court nonetheless lodged criticisms of the case, which is known in lower courts as Juliana v. United States. (Read more…)



Partner News and CSA Events


Global Climate Summit Set for Sept. 12-14 in San Francisco


The 2018 Global Climate Action Summit, set for Sept. 12-14 in San Francisco, will bring together state and local governments, business, and citizens from around the world to showcase climate action taking place, thereby demonstrating how the tide has turned in the race against climate change and inspiring deeper national commitments in support of the Paris Climate Change Agreement.


To keep warming well below 2 degrees Celsius, and ideally 1.5 degrees, and avoid temperatures that could lead to catastrophic consequences, worldwide emissions must start trending down by 2020, summit organizers say.


The Summit will show-case climate action around the world, along with bold new commitments, to give world leaders confidence to go even further by 2020.


The Summit’s five headline challenge areas are Healthy Energy Systems; Inclusive Economic Growth; Sustainable Communities; Land Stewardship; and Transformative Climate Investments


A series of reports are set to be launched over the coming months and at the summit underlining the contribution of states and regions, cities, businesses, investors and civil society, also known as “non-party stakeholders” to national and international efforts to address climate change.


Many partners are supporting the summit and the mobilization in advance, including Climate Group; the Global Covenant of Mayors; the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group; BSR; We Mean Business; CDP, formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project; the World Wide Fund for Nature; and Mission 2020. To learn more about how your organization can engage in the summit, click HERE.


Summit organizers are providing new evidence of how cities, states, regions, businesses and investors are taking climate ambition to the next level. Officials say the widespread efforts are helping to build momentum for a successful outcome for the UN Climate Change Conference in Katowice, Poland (COP24) at the end of the year.


The summit in San Francisco will be hosted by the California Gov. Jerry Brown; the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Climate Action, Michael Bloomberg; the Chairman of the Mahindra Group, Anand Mahindra; and the Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change, Patricia Espinosa.


In addition to adding critical momentum to the COP24 negotiations in Poland this December – when governments of the world will meet to signal their readiness to enhance ambition – the summit in San Francisco will build momentum for a strong outcome at the Climate Summit to be convened by UN Secretary-General António Guterres in 2019, and to elevate climate action plans – Nationally Determined Contributions, or NDCs – by 2020.


“2018 is the year when the world must step up climate action to bend down emissions by 2020 – and set the stage for the fast and full implementation of the Paris Climate Change Agreement and its crucial temperature goal,” said Nick Nuttall, the September summit’s communications director. “The summit will bring businesses, states, cities, regions, territories and people from around the world together and in common cause to take climate ambition to the next level.”


For more information on the September summit, click HERE.


Canada to Host G7 Ministerial Meeting on Climate Change, Oceans, Clean Energy


Canada will co-host a meeting of G7 Environment, Energy and Oceans Ministers in Halifax, Nova Scotia, from Sept. 19-21. The ministerial meeting follows up a G7 leaders summit in Quebec last month.


Under the theme of “Working Together on Climate Change, Oceans and Clean Energy,” ministers will discuss global climate action, clean growth and sustainable finance, resilient coasts and fisheries, plastic pollution, energy security and clean energy.


“To achieve a more sustainable future, we need to tackle climate change, improve the health of the world’s oceans and transform the way we produce, transport and use energy,” the Canadian government said in a statement.


“This G7 Ministerial Meeting is a tremendous opportunity to help advance climate action, cut plastic pollution in our oceans and accelerate the clean energy transition,” said Catherine McKenna, Canada’s minister of Environment and Climate Change. “Canada is proud to be among the leaders working to tackle these global challenges and seize the opportunities they represent as we build a more sustainable future for our kids and grandkids.”


The G7 is an informal grouping of seven of the world’s advanced economies consisting of Canada, France, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan and Italy, as well as the European Union. Canada holds the G7 Presidency until December 31, 2018.


We encourage our NACSAA partners and other stakeholders to share with us any organization news or events highlighting your role in climate smart agriculture. We look forward to including your information in our monthly newsletter. Simply send your news or event notices to

NACSAA Newsletters