December 2019


EDITOR’S NOTE: Welcome to the latest edition of NACSAA News, a monthly compilation of CSA-related news. “NACSAA in Action” features the latest on the Alliance activities; “Featured News” offers some of the biggest CSA-related stories of the past month; “Other News We Are Reading” is 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 subscribe, email

NACSAA in Action

NACSAA Delegates to COP 25 Pursue

Increased Role for Ag in Stemming Climate Change


Agricultural interests found fertile ground during global talks in Madrid, Spain, this month, taking advantage of a growing acceptance of the sector as a source of solutions to the climate crisis that now poses a significant threat to the world’s food security.


NACSAA representatives, including Steering Committee Chair Fred Yoder, committee members AG Kawamura and Ray Gaesser, and alliance coordinator Ernie Shea, were in Madrid promoting climate smart agriculture (CSA) policies and actions that can optimize the contributions the world’s farmers, rancher and forestland owners can offer in the effort to stem the ongoing changes to our climate.


Fred Yoder (left) and A.G. Kawamura join Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL), chair of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, during an event at COP25.

NACSAA representatives have been attending and contributing to the global discussions for the last two years, working to ensure negotiators provide the steps needed for the agricultural sector to continue to grow ample, safe and affordable food, feed, fiber and energy.


The global negotiations in Madrid, known as a Conference of Parties, were the latest (COP 25) in a series of annual discussions held under the aegis of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).


NACSAA members were on hand to support the alliance’s latest recommendations to the global talks submitted under the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture (KJWA), a policy process adopted by negotiators in 2017 that for the first time fully recognizes the role agricultural interests must play to face climate challenges.


NACSAA representatives have worked over the last two years to use the authority provided to the delegates by the KJWA to fully consider the sector’s vulnerability to increasing droughts, floods, violent winds and other harsh consequences of a changing climate. Just as importantly, NACSAA members take full advantage of KJWA authority to advance the services that agriculture can offer in stemming further weather destabilization and better assuring food security.


Negotiators set out a road map of work under the KJWA protocol, including six workshops to be held sequentially up until COP 26 next November 2020. Madrid marked the fourth Koronivia workshop, in which delegates focused on improved nutrient use and manure management towards sustainable and resilient agricultural systems.


NACSAA leaders appearing on a high-profile side event during COP25 made clear farmers have always been engaged in the effort to proactively address climate change challenges, but the climate solutions and other steps the sector has taken to meet sustainable development goals (SDGs) remain undervalued


Gaesser, an Iowa corn and soybean producer, and Shea appeared on a panel that focused on climate change and the agriculture sector. They spoke of the role farmers are playing in addressing climate change, sharing with those attending the U.S. Climate Action forum the CSA initiatives being undertaken at the state and national level.


American farmers, ranchers and forestland owners are innovators, continually adapting to the increasing challenges of climate change impacts, like droughts, floods, record high temperatures, and wildfires, the SfL leaders said. Those who work the land are also uniquely positioned to lead on climate solutions by providing renewable energy, keeping our water clean, storing carbon in the ground, and feeding a growing population, they added.


Shea shared the work being done to promote the role of CSA in statewide projects around the United States. Efforts in Ohio, Florida and Iowa, among others, aim to ensure farms, ranches and forestlands sustainably produce food, feed, fiber, energy and ecosystems services; enhance climate resilience; reduce and sequester greenhouse gas emissions; and contribute high value solutions to sustainable development goals.


However, Shea warned that enabling policies are needed to incentivize the solutions that the sector can deliver.


Gaesser noted the significance of the topic of the panel discussion, recalling that in previous years, agriculture has been cited as a problem contributing to climate change. But the conversation now, he says, is focused on the solutions the sector can bring to meeting the challenge.


Farmers, he said, are well aware of the changes the climate is undergoing, and have used the tools they have had available to meet those challenge. But those tools must be constantly widened and improved to remain effective.


The contingent in Madrid also issued call for support of the guiding principles that NACSAA holds the world should follow in crafting agricultural adaptation and mitigation strategies and programs. The principles were developed to ensure that farmers remain at the center of all discussions and decision-making related to agricultural solutions. They also assert that findings must be science-based.


Earlier during the conference, Yoder, Kawamura and Shea were guests of U.S. Ambassador to Spain Duke Buchan III at a reception he held at his residence for the U.S. congressional delegation in Madrid for COP 25. There, the NACSAA delegation members met and spoke with a number of the U.S. lawmakers in attendance, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis Kathy Castor and Michigan Rep. Debbie Dingell, who asked to learn more about ethanol as a climate solution pathway for the transport sector.


Yoder, an Ohio corn and soybean producer, represented NACSAA at the Koronivia workshop, while Kawamura, a California grower and shipper, spoke at a “Future of the Food System” event.


More Opportunities for Farmer Input

on Climate Crisis Now Available


While NACSAA representatives and allies engaged policy makers on the international level, the alliance is also seeking farmer input on policy being developed domestically.


Ray Gaesser

Steering Committee member Ray Gaesser, a former chairman of the American Soybean Association, has been named to lead a NACSAA Enabling Policies Team charged with exploring steps that Congress should adopt to reduce carbon pollution and other greenhouse gas emissions, all while maximizing carbon storage in agriculture. Recommendations are also being sought by the team for policies that help farmers, ranchers, and natural resource managers adapt to the impacts of climate change.


NACSAA partners are urged to submit recommendations to the team at [email protected]. Proposals ultimately developed by the team will be submitted to the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis committee this spring. Like the negotiations that took place in Madrid, the House committee’s work is offering an opportunity for important contributions from those who best know the steps that can – and must – be taken to stem the growing threat to our food security: those who work the land.


For additional information, contact Ernie Shea at 410-952-0123, or at [email protected].


Featured News


Global Carbon Emissions Growth Slows, But Hits Record High


Driven by rising natural gas and oil consumption, levels of CO2 are expected to hit another record high this year – 37 billion metric tons, according to new estimates from the Global Carbon Project, an initiative led by Stanford University scientist Rob Jackson.


The findings are outlined in three new papers published in Earth System Science Data, Environmental Research Letters, and Nature Climate Change. Although the rate of emissions growth is slower than in the previous two years, the researchers warn emissions could keep increasing for a decade or more unless energy, transportation and industry policies change dramatically across the world.


“When the good news is that emissions growth is slower than last year, we need help,” said Jackson, a professor of Earth system science in Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences (Stanford Earth). “When will emissions start to drop?”


The research estimates that global carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel sources – which represent roughly 90 percent of all emissions from human activities – will grow a projected 0.6 percent over 2018 emissions. That compares to 2.1 percent growth a year earlier and 1.5 percent growth in 2017.


Glimmers of hope, such as the dramatic decline of coal use in the European Union and United States, are overshadowed by surging natural gas and oil use around the world, according to the researchers. Per capita emissions in affluent countries remain disproportionately high – a fact that further complicates the picture as developing countries seek greater prosperity through more natural-gas-fueled electricity and gasoline-powered vehicles and air travel.


“Emissions cuts in wealthier nations must outpace increases in poorer countries where access to energy is still needed,” said Pierre Friedlingstein, a mathematics professor at the University of Exeter and lead author of the Global Carbon Budget paper in Earth System Science Data.


The group found that the United States, the European Union (E.U.) and China account for more than half of all carbon dioxide emissions globally. While annual emissions are decreasing slowly in many industrialized regions, including the United States, where they are down a projected 1.7 percent since last year, they are growing in many countries, including China, where they should rise 2.6 percent this year. About 40 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions were attributable to coal use, 34 percent from oil, 20 percent from natural gas, and the remaining 6 percent from cement production and other sources.


Although still a major factor in global emissions, coal has taken a hit, with global usage down 0.9 percent for the past year. In 2019, consumption of coal is expected to drop 11 percent in the United States – down 50 percent from its peak in 2005 – displaced by cheaper natural gas, wind and solar power, as well as savings from energy efficiency. Coal use should drop a further 10 percent in the E.U. In China, which accounts for half of global coal use, growth slowed to 0.8 percent this year due in part to China’s economic downturn.


“Declining coal use in the U.S. and Europe is reducing emissions, creating jobs and saving lives through cleaner air,” said Jackson. “More consumers are demanding cheaper alternatives such as solar and wind power.”


To counterbalance increasing emissions, the researchers call for stronger national policies and global commitments to help institute carbon pricing, accelerate energy efficiency improvements, reduce energy consumption, deploy electric vehicles, ramp up carbon capture and storage technologies and replace fossil fuels with renewable sources.


As A Way to Fight Climate Change, Not All Soils Are Created Equal – Study


As the planet warms due to excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, a solution for drawing down that carbon – or at least a major part of it – lies silently below us, scientists say.


Soil organic matter – made of decomposing plant, animal and microbial tissue – is what distinguishes healthy, vibrant soil from just plain dirt. Making up about 3% of productive agricultural soils, soil organic matter is an effective “carbon sink” that can store, in the ground, the carbon dioxide plants pull from the atmosphere. Along with reducing fossil fuel emissions, employing soils as vast carbon sinks is considered a key strategy in combating climate change.


On the left is cambisol, a type of grassland soil, and on the right is podzol, an example of a forest soil. Provided/Francesca Cotrufo


Accruing soil organic matter effectively and sustainably requires a deeper understanding of its formation, persistence and function. And according to Colorado State University scientists, not all soil organic matter is created equal.


A set of studies led by CSU soil scientist Francesca Cotrufo offers a newly nuanced understanding of different soil organic matter components that can be increased through varied management strategies.


Publishing in Global Change Biology, Cotrufo and co-authors Jocelyn Lavallee and Jennifer Soong establish a framework for classifying soil organic matter into two broad categories that are fundamentally different in origin and makeup. In a related study in Nature Geoscience,Cotrufo led an experimental and statistical survey of these soil organic matter components across European forests and grasslands.


Only by recognizing the diversity of soil organic matter can science, government and agriculture move forward with carbon sequestration to help reverse the tide of climate change while increasing the health of our soils, the scientists say.


“Because of thousands of years of historical land use and conventional agriculture, we have contributed to consuming soil organic matter and emitting carbon from the soil into the atmosphere,” says Cotrufo, a professor in the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences and senior scientist in the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory. “Now, we have the opportunity to put it back.”


That opportunity, Cotrufo and colleagues say, comes with thinking of soil organic matter as having two major components.


The first is called “particulate organic matter,” made up of lightweight, partly decomposed plants and fungi residues that are short-lived and not well protected.


The second is “mineral-associated organic matter,” largely made of byproducts of the decomposition of microbes that chemically bind to minerals in the soil. This type of matter is more resilient and able to persist in the ground for centuries.

Insights around the formation of these different classes of soil sprouted from previous work Cotrufo published in 2013, establishing a “microbial-efficiency mineral-stabilization framework” that transformed the way scientists understand how organic matter persists in soils. Cotrufo and colleagues proposed that microbial decomposition of plant matter can act as a stabilizer for soil organic matter; it was previously thought that preserving carbon in soil would require halting decomposition.


Cotrufo calls particulate organic matter the “checking account” of soils. It turns over continuously and supports nutrient cycling but requires regular deposits to stay vital. Mineral-associated organic matter, then, is the “savings account”: it gets a smaller fraction of deposits but is inherently more stable.


Conventional agriculture, Cotrufo says, has caused us to exhaust our checking account and start living off our savings. This happens because of farms selecting few crops with minimal root production, harvesting much of the above-ground biomass, and maintaining few and chemically homogenous plant inputs into the soils.


By taking cues from nature and understanding how natural prairies and forests manage their soil checking and savings accounts, more forward-thinking strategies are possible for upending farming and land use to be more sustainable, Cotrufo says. To regenerate healthy soil that can capture excess carbon, both types of soil pools must be augmented, she adds.


Writing in Nature Geoscience, the researchers showed that European grasslands and forests with symbiotic partnerships between fungi and plants store more soil carbon in nitrogen-demanding mineral-associated organic matter. But forests that depend on symbiosis with other fungal species store more carbon in particulate organic matter, which is more vulnerable to disturbance, but has a lower nitrogen demand and can accumulate carbon indefinitely.


USDA Invests $237 Million in REAP Funds for 640 Projects Nationwide


USDA is investing $237 million in Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) funds to help farmers, ag producers and rural-based businesses to lower energy costs, officials announced Dec. 10. The department is providing 640 awards to applicants in all 50 states, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the Western Pacific.


“Businesses grow and create more jobs when their energy costs are lower,” said Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Donald LaVoy, who added that the department “is committed to being a strong partner to rural businesses, because we know that when rural America thrives, all of America thrives.”


Recipients can use REAP funding for energy audits and to install renewable energy systems such as biomass, geothermal, hydropower and solar. The funding can also be used to increase energy efficiency by making improvements to heating, ventilation and cooling systems; insulation; and lighting and refrigeration.

For example:

  • Vicksburg Forest Products LLC in Vicksburg, Miss., will receive a $250,000 grant to upgrade lighting and make improvements to a compressed air system, which will lower electrical consumption by an estimated 63 percent a year, enough to power 462 homes.
  • Panek Farms, in Albion, N.Y., is receiving a $185,470 grant to purchase and install a 320-kilowatt solar array. The project will save the farm $32,675 each year and replace enough demand to power 36 homes.
  • In Alaska, four commercial fishing boat operators will receive a total of $74,153 to purchase equipment to reduce energy costs and keep their catch fresh. One of the operators, Jasper P. Allbrett, in Sitka, will receive a $48,618 grant to upgrade the insulation of fish holds, pumps, the refrigeration unit’s electrical system and the auxiliary generator on his boat. The REAP grants will save each operator about $5,000 annually and will reduce fuel oil consumption by an estimated 34 percent per year.

In April 2017, President Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities.


In January 2018, Perdue presented the task force’s findings to President Trump. These findings included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America. Supporting the rural workforce was a cornerstone recommendation of the task force.


To view the report in its entirety, click HERE. In addition, to view the categories of the recommendations, click HERE.


USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit


Some Western U.S. Forests Crucial for Climate Change Mitigation


A study by Oregon State University researchers has identified forests in the western United States that should be preserved for their potential to mitigate climate change through carbon sequestration, as well as to enhance biodiversity.


Those forests are mainly along the Pacific coast and in the Cascade Range, with pockets of them in the northern Rocky Mountains as well. Not logging those forests would be the carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent of halting eight years’ worth of fossil fuel burning in the western lower 48.



The research boosts the premise that making land stewardship a higher societal priority is crucial for altering climate change trajectory.


The findings, published in Ecological Applications, are important because capping global temperature increases at 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, as called for in the 2016 Paris Agreement, would maintain substantial proportions of ecosystems while also benefiting economies and human health, scientists say.


“The greater frequency and intensity of extreme events such as wildfires have adversely affected terrestrial ecosystems,” said study co-author Beverly Law, professor of forest ecosystems and society in the OSU College of Forestry. “Although climate change is impacting forests in many regions, other regions are expected to have low vulnerability to fires, insects and drought in the future.”


Law, Oregon State forestry professor William Ripple, postdoctoral research associate Polly Buotte and Logan Berner of EcoSpatial Services analyzed forests in the western United States to simulate potential carbon sequestration through the 21st century.


The five-year study supported by the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture identified, and targeted for preservation, forests with high carbon sequestration potential, low vulnerability to drought, fire and beetles, and high biodiversity value.


Largely through the burning of fossil fuels, which releases the greenhouse gas CO2 into the atmosphere, the Earth has already warmed by 1 degree Celsius. Arctic sea ice is declining at the fastest rate in 1,500 years, sea levels have risen more than 8 inches since 1880, and extreme weather events are becoming more common and damaging.


Atmospheric CO2 has increased 40 percent since the dawn of the Industrial Age. According to the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration’s Global Monitoring Division, the global average atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration on Jan 1, 2019, was 410 parts per million, higher than at any time in at least 800,000 years.


“Smart land management can mitigate the effects of climate-induced ecosystem changes to biodiversity and watersheds, which influence ecosystem services that play a key role in human well-being,” said Buotte, the study’s corresponding author.


Preserving temperate forests in the western United States that have medium to high potential carbon sequestration and low future climate vulnerability could account for about a third of the global mitigation potential previously identified for temperate and boreal forests, the authors say.


“At the same time, it would promote ecosystem resilience and maintenance of biodiversity,” Law said. “We are in the midst of a climate crisis and a biodiversity crisis. Preserving these forests is one of the greatest things we can do in our region of North America to help on both fronts.”


Compliance with Paris Pact Would Limit Loss of Ag, Fishing Productivity


Scientists show that most of the global population may face decreases in productivity for both agriculture and fishing if greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs)are not reduced. On the other hand, most countries are in a position to limit these losses if emissions are drastically cut, as stipulated by the Paris Agreement.


An international team of scientists led by the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and involving the University of Montpellier in France has studied the impact of climate change on agriculture and fishing by applying climate models to worldwide data on employment, the economy and food security.

(CNRS study map art)



Their findings, published in Science Advances in November, show the wide breadth of potentially decreased productivity wrought by unchecked GHGs, while also showing the potential to limit the losses.


By combining climate models with global emloyment, economic, and food security data, researchers analyzed the potential effects of climate change on the world’s two key food sectors (agriculture and fishing).


Under a scenario of no reduction in GHGs, the team shows that roughly 90 percent of the worldwide human population – for  the most part living in those countries most vulnerable to climate change and less able to adapt to it – would likely face productivity losses for agriculture and fishing, while less than 3 percent of the population would see simultaneous gains in productivity in their regions of the world by 2100.


This extreme scenario offers little room for adaptation. It would be impossible to offset the impact on agriculture by developing fishing, or vice versa: both sectors would be hit hard, the researchers say.


Yet if the Paris Agreement is honored, which would entail a drastic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, the scientists conclude that the majority of countries – not just the most vulnerable, but also the majority of those responsible for the greatest emissions – would come out ahead. Though productivity would still be lost in many cases (affecting 60 percent of the population), the magnitude of this blow would be considerably lower.


The most vulnerable nations would see only a fifth to a fourth of the losses they would otherwise suffer, giving them ample slack to implement adaptive strategies – for example, diversification within an affected sector (by developing varieties that would be viable in the climate of tomorrow) or investment in sectors relatively unscathed by changing climate conditions, or even benefiting from them.


The findings suggest that making societies less vulnerable to the future effects of climate change requires quick action to attenuate it, along with strategic adaptation in regions where negative impacts appear inevitable.


Argonne Shows Benefits of Better Corn Residue Management Strategies


As the global population swells, boosting the demand for both food and energy, land management has never been more important. Now, scientists at the DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory are conducting pivotal research that will help keep soil healthy now and into the future.


There are more than 2 million farms in the United States alone with more than 90 million acres planted for corn. The national statistics reflect a global phenomenon: Corn production comprises 13 percent of the world’s arable land.


Scientists have long known that corn residue or stover — meaning the above-ground portions of the corn plant remaining after harvest — plays a critical role in soil health.


Corn stover is mostly left on the field either in its entirety or in a lesser amount, depending on the farmer’s practice and soil type.


It serves many critical functions: It protects the surface of the soil by improving soil structural stability and reducing soil erosion, maintains agronomic productivity by replenishing soil organic matter, and conserves soil moisture to facilitate crop growth.


Corn stover is a promising biofuel feedstock. The key question is whether corn stover removal may affect soil organic carbon (SOC) and soil health.


Researchers, aware of the problem, have been studying it for years, but their findings have varied. While excessive stover removal is not a preferred practice, leaving too much corn stover could also harbor diseases, tie up nitrogen in the soil, and impede soil warm-up, which is important for planting in the spring. Scientists say a balance must be struck between beneficially leaving some corn stover on the fields and collecting damaging excess.


Scientists at Argonne, who also had been examining the issue, led a pioneering collaboration to screen 3,380 papers published between 1990 and 2018 to quantify the overall response of soil carbon to stover removal and to identify key drivers that can help with maintaining soil health.


They collected and analyzed 409 data points from 74 stover harvest experiments sites around the world.


Teamed up with researchers from the USDA and universities, they came to important conclusions that could help farmers manage their fields in a sustainable way.


“We wanted to complete a systematic assessment to address these concerns so we could provide suggestions for relevant stakeholders and industrial leaders,” said Hui Xu, environmental analyst at the Systems Assessment Center in Argonne’s Energy Systems division. “With so much of the earth’s land devoted to farming, it’s critical that we develop best practices to make sure we don’t exhaust this finite resource.”


This type of analysis has already improved scientists’ understanding of SOC implications for bioenergy production. While many believed that stover removal may reduce SOC, this study showed that careful stover removal could maintain or even marginally increase SOC stock.


Researchers say that findings from the study can serve as inputs to a suite of models designed to evaluate a critical issue regarding cellulosic feedstocks production including crop residue, dedicated energy crops, and forest residues.


Scientist say the new study also adds to the effectiveness of the Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy Use in Transportation Model, or GREET, which provides a transparent platform from which energy and vehicle producers, researchers and regulators can evaluate vehicle technologies and energy systems. Several Argonne scientists helped develop GREET, which is used by industry, researchers, and regulators to evaluate the energy and environmental footprint of biofuels.


“Every piece of new information we glean from our research bolsters GREET and reduces uncertainty about the environmental effects of biofuels,” said Michael Wang, original developer of the GREET model and the manager of the Systems Assessment Center at Argonne. “These are living documents. We update the GREET model annually based on creditable new data.”


World-Scale Manure-to-Fuel Facility Has Successful Start-Up


Threemile Canyon Farms and Equilibrium successfully opened and is now operation Oregon’s only dairy manure renewable natural gas production facility – one of the largest in the United States.


The facility, located near Boardman, OR, uses the manure from 33,000 dairy cows to feed an anaerobic digester system, followed by a biogas clean-up system that injects renewable natural gas (“RNG”) into the natural gas grid.


The RNG is used as a transportation fuel to eliminate about 130,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year, which equates to removing 28,000 cars from the road.


The $55-million project began injecting RNG into the grid in July of 2019 and the RNG is currently being used as transportation fuel in California.


Iogen Corporation provided the project with a structured RNG offtake agreement that helped maximize project returns within risk boundaries.


Under a 10-year agreement, Iogen is providing an investment-grade floor price for RNG with market upside sharing, and is managing all fuel compliance activities, including generating and monetizing D3 RINs under the federal Renewable Fuel Standard and LCFS Credits under the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard program.


“When our farm recently converted our methane digester to produce RNG, Iogen’s industry experience and long-term business relationships were pivotal to the project’s success,” said Marty Myers, General Manager for Threemile Canyon Farms. “This project was significant because it further demonstrates our commitment to environmental stewardship and takes our regenerative farming philosophy to the next level. Iogen’s technical knowledge and expertise added considerable value to the project.”


Converting waste manure to RNG is a winning combination for dairy farms and the environment. The use of an anaerobic digester not only reduces farms’ methane emissions by converting manure into a low carbon emissions sustainable vehicle fuel, but also creates clean and comfortable bedding for the dairy cows and produces a natural fertilizer used to enrich the soil for organic and feed crops.


“Equilibrium’s Water, Waste, and Energy investment team is pleased to be working with Threemile Canyon Farms and Iogen on this Project,” said Raimund Grube, principal. “This project is one of the largest of its kind in the United States, serving a dairy that is committed to sustainable and best in class operations. Both Iogen and Threemile Canyon Farms are leaders in their industry with the deep experience and proven capabilities that we seek in all of our partners.”


Iogen is a Canadian company specializing in the production of renewable fuels. The firm develops and invests in low carbon intensity fuel projects that use biogas or cellulosic residues as a feedstock.




Other News We Are Reading…

White House Says It Is Sticking with 2020 Biofuel Plan, Despite Farmer Objections



The Trump administration plans to stick with its proposed(Read 2020 biofuel blending requirements, the White House said Dec. 18, despite anger among farmers that the plan does too little for corn growers. The decision could undermine President Trump’s support among farmers, an important constituency in the November 2020 election. Some U.S. farmers have already been hurt by the United States’ prolonged trade war with China. “The administration is moving forward to finalize the 2020 RVO (Renewable Volume Obligations) in line with the agreement that the president made this fall,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said. Deere confirmed he was talking about a proposal unveiled by the EPA in October, which was intended to compensate the biofuel industry for the administration’s expanded use of refinery waivers, but which the industry has largely panned as insufficient. The Trump administration’s EPA has roughly quadrupled the number of the so-called Small Refinery Exemptions, something corn farmers and biofuel producers say has deeply undercut demand for ethanol. The EPA plan, devised after weeks of negotiations with both the oil and biofuel industries to resolve the issue, would raise the biofuels volumes that some refineries must blend in 2020 based on Energy Department recommendations for volumes that should be exempted. Biofuel interests wanted the regulation to be based on volumes that have actually been waived, since the EPA has routinely waived more blending volumes than the DOE has recommended. (Read more…)


Extreme Weather Patterns Are Raising the Risk of a Global Food Crisis

(The Washington Post)


Extreme weather patterns associated with heat waves and droughts are raising the risks of simultaneous harvest failures of vital crops worldwide such as wheat, maize and soybeans, two studies found. This is pushing the world closer to the edge of potential food price spikes, associated social unrest and food shortages. The studies, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, found that in an increasingly interconnected world, there’s a greater chance that extreme weather events can have ripple effects in more than one region at once. In particular, when the jet stream – the high-altitude air current that steers storms and separates air masses, takes on more undulating and persistent wavy shapes (technically known as “Rossby waves,” after the scientist Carl-Gustaf Rossby), extreme heat events become more common in particular parts of the world. These locations include the breadbasket regions of western North America, Western Europe, western Russia, and western Asia, depending on the exact jet stream pattern that develops and locks into place. (Read more…)


Pelosi Expects Major Climate Bill Before the 2020 Election (E&E News)


The House is poised to take up major climate change legislation before next year’s elections, once the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis submits its policy recommendations, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told reporters Dec. 6. “That is the purpose of the Select Committee, not just to be an academic endeavor, but to report to the legislative committees so that we can act upon it and build along the way, in the public, the fact that Congress is acting,” Pelosi said at a news conference to tout the Democrats’ trip to Madrid for United Nations climate talks. Pelosi tapped the select panel, led by Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.), at the beginning of the 116th Congress to draw up a set of climate policy recommendations by March of next year. While that panel has no legislative authority, Pelosi said its ideas would be funneled through the committees of jurisdiction. (Read more…)


 Cargill Pledges to Reduce GHGs From Its Entire Supply Chain By 30 Percent

(Minneapolis Star-Tribune)


Minnetonka-based Cargill Inc. committed Dec. 3 to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in its entire supply chain – from farm fields to fast-food kitchens – by 30 percent per ton of product in the next decade. The commitment follows a contentious summer when Cargill faced severe activist criticism for its presence as a soy trader in Brazil during the recent spate of fires in and around the Amazon. Its latest announcement coincides with the United Nations’ climate summit, officially called the Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Convention on Climate Change, in Madrid this week. “We’ve come under scrutiny around what is happening in soy in South America and Brazil, and that has just continued to reinforce for us that there’s a critical role for us to play in food and agriculture in doing what we do in a more sustainable way,” Ruth Kimmelshue, head of Cargill’s supply chain and sustainability, told the Star Tribune. “Since then, there’s been a pretty significant ramp-up in attention [both externally and internally] on ensuring that we execute on our purpose around sustainable supply chains.” (Read more…)



Partner News and CSA Events


NACSAA Partners Share First-Hand Observations From COP25 in Madrid


A number of NACSAA member organizations sent representatives to Madrid for the most recent global climate talks, designated as the Conference of Parties (COP). Two of those who participated in COP25, Lara Moody, vice president for Stewardship and Sustainability with The Fertilizer Institute (TFI), and Allison M. Chatrchyan, director of Cornell University’s Institute for Climate Smart Solutions, have shared observations from their participation in the global event.


Lara Moody (TFI):


Nutrients, both mineral fertilizers and organic materials like manure, are a key component for the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number 2, achieving Zero Hunger. The UN notes, “it is time to rethink how we grow, share and consume our food. If done right, agriculture, forestry and fisheries can provide nutritious food for all and generate decent incomes, while supporting people-centered rural development and protecting the environment.”


Lara Moody

With 50 percent of the world’s food supply existing because of mineral fertilizers, The Fertilizer Institute (TFI), our members and our peers are engaged. The SDGs make clear that protecting the environment is as important as achieving zero hunger, and we think it’s key that agriculture is part of the solution – especially when it comes to mitigating and adapting to climate change.


This was my first time attending a Conference of Parties (the formal name of the sessions, this one in Madrid designated as COP25). What drew me to the meeting was the Koronivia working group’s current focus on soil health, soil fertility, and soil carbon; and nutrient use and manure management. TFI has worked for a decade to increase the adoption of fertilizer best management practices based on the 4Rs (using the right nutrient source, at the right rate, the right time and in the right place). The message has received national and global amplification thanks to our industry peers and stakeholders.


But it’s not just our belief that the 4Rs work; there is more than a decade’s worth of scientific research to back it up. The 4Rs increase productivity while reducing nutrient loss to the environment (to address air and water quality concerns as well as reducing N2O emissions). And, this is the message the fertilizer industry took to COP25 and the Koroniva negotiations.


After engaging in the Koronivia negotiations, speaking on a panel focused on “Raising the Ambition for Climate Action In Agriculture,” and listening in on many side event sessions, I came away disturbed but with greater focus. Disturbed because there is a clear call and response by many (including developing countries) to feed the world and address environmental concerns through strictly agroecology systems – which in my own view will not get us to an outcome of zero hunger.


I gained greater focus because what became clear to me is the need within agriculture to quit focusing on labeling our agricultural systems and instead to focus on best practices used collectively to achieve desired outcomes. We know that practices, such as conservation tillage, cover crops, crop rotation, fertilizer incorporation, soil testing, and split fertilizer applications, can achieve increased soil carbon, reduced nutrient loss, or increased water hold capacity. No matter what system of agriculture you subscribe to (agroecology, modern, organic, production, regenerative, conventional, sustainable, etc.), basic principles apply across the board.


We’ll never win or end an us-vs.-them debate on which system must be used. But we can find agreement on best practices for farmers in each of these systems that will help them decrease hunger and lessen their environmental impact.


Allison Chatrchyan, Cornell University:


For the past several years, I have been attending the annual Conference of Parties (COP) meetings, and Subsidiary Bodies (SB) intercessional meetings, to participate in the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture (KJWA) meetings and workshops. I also have the honor of helping a small COP country delegation, The Republic of Armenia, to track the agriculture negotiations, and this has afforded me a “spot at the table.”


Allison Chatrchyan

The purpose of the KJWA is for two “the SBSTA and SBI to jointly address issues related to agriculture, including through workshops and expert meetings, working with constituted bodies under the Convention and taking into consideration the vulnerabilities of agriculture to climate change and approaches to addressing food security.” Like many others that attend the meetings, I find that the negotiations are both exciting, confusing, overwhelming, and a bit frustrating that the process seems soooo slooow. But I do believe that it’s incredibly important that agriculture is finally receiving the spotlight it demands on the global climate change agenda. The KJWA meetings are always filled to the brim with country negotiators, observer groups and implementing agencies, which to me is a recognition of how important this issue is. And overall, there is a nice comradery among the group, as one starts to recognize the same negotiators and agencies in the room, all working ultimately towards a common objective of helping farmers adapt and mitigate climate change.


This KJWA meeting was spent focusing on the fourth in a series of in-session workshops related to “improved nutrient use and manure management towards sustainable and resilient agricultural systems.” Individuals that were not able to attend the meeting can review the PowerPoint presentations at the UNFCCC website HERE. The presentation from Colorado State University on “Improved Nutrient Use & Manure Management Towards Sustainable & Resilient Agricultural Systems,” provided an excellent summary of the state of research on this topic in the United States. The end result of this session was a decision summarizing the workshop, and directing the work leading up to COP26.


There seemed to be several familiar disconnects among parties in the room, with developing countries representing small holder farmers calling for assistance to support adaptation, and often focusing on the need for agroecological approaches and natural inputs. As with other discussions around finance, developed countries have pushed back against these demands. There is also a need for a balanced presentation of options, based in science. In the authors opinion, there need to be climate smart options that engage all farmers and all stakeholders in addressing climate change, from small-scale to large farms and corporations in the agricultural supply chain. Every voice needs to be heard at the negotiating table.


There will be two more workshops (one in spring 2020, and one at the next intercessional meeting next June in Bonn), and then the KJWA three-year program will finish in Glasgow at COP26. Next year, agriculture is expected to make a more central role at COP26 in Glasgow, with the potential for parties to make recommendations for climate action in agriculture. The ideal outcome would be a package of guidelines for farming under climate change, perhaps the” Glasgow guidelines on agriculture.”

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