Welcome to NACSAA News, a quarterly compilation of CSA-related developments. “NACSAA Members in Action” features the latest on our partners’ activities; “Featured News” offers some of the biggest CSA-related stories of the past quarter; “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” offers the latest partner updates. 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, click here.
NACSAA Members in Action
Farmer leaders supporting NACSAA climate goals were on the ground in Glasgow, Scotland, last month, leading discussions among global negotiators promoting agriculture’s central role in providing solutions for climate change, as well as other intertwined global challenges, such as food and nutrition security, clean water, biodiversity and improved livelihoods.
The delegation included Ray Gaesser, Iowa (soybeans and corn); Ag Kawamura, California (fruit & vegetables); Fred Yoder, Ohio (corn, soybeans and wheat); Lois Wright Morton, Ohio (berries & asparagus); Howard-Yana Shapiro, CA (seeds); Pat and Sharon O’Toole, Wyoming (cattle, sheep & horses); and Ernie Shea, MD (SfL President).
Despite the UK government’s tepid interest in agricultural climate solutions, the delegation’s engagement at COP 26 confirmed that the world is beginning to appreciate the agriculture sector as a major untapped solution pathway to addressing climate challenges. This was affirmed by several high-level commitments that were announced at the COP, including the launch of the AIM for Climate initiative www.aimforclimate.org, co-led by the United States and the United Arab Emirates. Backed by an initial investment of $2 billion dollars made by the US and UAE, over 30 countries have banded together with the goal of investing $40 billion in climate smart agriculture food system and climate innovation and research initiatives over the next five years. This is a remarkable development and confirms that NACSAA’s farmer led, all-tools-the toolbox strategy for enabling ag solutions to SDG attainment is gaining worldwide support. Just five years ago, there were only a handful of organizations that were that talking about agriculture as a climate solution.
Among the more significant interventions at COP 26 were Fred Yoder’s participation in a USDA sponsored CSA program at the U.S. Center; a side conversation Fred and AG Kawamura had with Gina McCarthy, President Biden’s national climate change coordinator, about CSA and the way increased use of biofuels can double greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector; our discussion of the 4R Nutrient Stewardship program with representatives of Ghana; bilateral meetings with agricultural stakeholders from the UK, Canada, the Netherlands, Brazil and Papua New Guinea; and side meetings with a number of SfL’s business partners.
While there are still groups demonizing agriculture in the COP, especially animal agriculture and systems designed to sustainably intensify production, the tide is turning and our message of the near-term climate smart agriculture, clean energy and water management solutions farmers, ranchers and forest landowners can deliver from the land is taking root and gaining ground.
So too was the recognition globally that the climate commitments and goals enshrined in the Paris Accord in 2015 cannot be met without agriculture.
Other Global Forums
In October, NACSAA farmer-leaders represented U.S. agricultural interests in global-scope events leading up to COP 26, pressing a multi-dimensional approach to take on the food-system, nutrition, ecological, climate and public health challenges present in the world today.
Promoting the view that the UN Sustainable Development Goals can best be met with a whole arsenal of integrated practices building on each other was NACSAA Chairman Fred Yoder spoke at the 49th annual meeting of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Committee on Food Security (CFS).
Yoder, a 4th-generation Ohio corn, soybeans and wheat grower, joined other panelists in discussing how to address the negative impact of climate change and water scarcity on food security and nutrition; the issues of climate mitigation and adaptation; and how food systems affect climate and water availability.
Later in the month, Pat O’Toole, a Wyoming cattle and sheep rancher, represented the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Farmer Constituency in a special workshop of the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture (KJWA). The KJWA is a key policy breakthrough reached by global negotiators in 2017 that recognizes the unique potential of agriculture in tackling climate change and gives the sector a full voice within the ongoing negotiations.
O’Toole, who is president of the Family Farm Alliance, held one of only two seats in the farmer constituency delegation. He joined other workshop participants in looking into integrated strategies and modalities to scale up implementation of best practices, innovations and technologies that increase resilience and sustainable production in agricultural systems according to specific, national circumstances. Pat’s astute observations and recommendations follow:
- The crisis is scale, how to scale up solutions to managing the landscape for agriculture and food, ecosystems, and farmer livelihoods.
- Farmers are holding the landscape together, need to listen to them.
- Need to focus on carbon biodiversity solutions.
- Agendas are obstacles for implementing solutions; agendas reflect individual preferences not solutions.
- Payment for ecosystem services are needed.
A Farmer’s Reflections from COP26
The following was authored by SfL Co-Chair and NACSAA member A.G. Kawamura, a California produce grower and shipper, a former state Secretary of Agriculture in California He was a member of the SfL contingent at the global climate negotiations in Glasgow, Scotland.
In December of 2009, I joined other elected California leaders in attending COP15 in Copenhagen, Denmark. While there representing California agriculture, it became painfully clear to me that the discussion around climate change was moving rapidly forward but without any inclusion or realization that agriculture and the global food supply was going to be one of the central areas of impact in a world with significant shifts in weather patterns. At that time, agriculture ministers from around the world were not invited into the conversations taking place “inside the tent” and many of us from sub-national governments could barely gain access to any of the internal meetings and presentations. That experience prompted several of us to call for greater access to the negotiations and drove us to work collaboratively towards solutions for common goals. It was at that conference that Solutions from the Land (SfL) was conceived and created.(Read more…)
Field to Market Releases Fourth National Indicators Report Underscoring Need for Greater Collective Action in Accelerating Sustainable Commodity Crop Production
Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, a NACSAA member, last week released the fourth edition of its landmark National Indicators Report, Environmental Indicators for Measuring Outcomes of On-Farm Agricultural Production in the United States, which provides critical national-level analysis on progress in environmental indicators across eleven U.S. commodity crops.
The report, last issued in 2016, demonstrates that progress across five key environmental indicators has largely plateaued over the last decade, demonstrating an urgent need for greater collective action from the value chain in order to achieve sustained transformation of the agricultural system.
Field to Market’s National Indicators Report is a peer-reviewed report utilizing publicly available data, published government reports and scientific literature to measure sustainability trends of commodity crop production in the United States between 1980 to 2020. This edition of the report updates the national level indicators for Energy Use, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Irrigation Water Use, Land Use and Soil Conservation for eleven major commodity crops, introducing newly available data on sorghum for the first time.
Where earlier editions of the report chronicled steady improvement across these indicators since 1980, the 2021 National Indicators Report finds that many areas of improvement have largely plateaued. These findings underscore that greater collective action is needed across the value chain to understand and create the necessary enabling conditions to support a transition to sustainable agriculture, including a focus on areas such as social science research and financial mechanisms.
Key findings from the report include:
- Significant opportunities for U.S. agriculture exist to contribute to climate change mitigation through reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, principally through achieving greater fertilizer use efficiency—which will reduce soil nitrous oxide emissions—and the use of renewable energy as well as energy efficiency improvements. Additional climate mitigation can be realized through reducing tillage and planting cover crops to increase soil carbon sequestration.
- Overall energy use efficiency from commodity crop production has improved over time; however, several major crops have shown increases in energy use over the past decade, resulting from increased use of fertilizer and crop chemical inputs.
- For major commodity crops, soil erosion was significantly reduced from around 1990 through 2005; however, since the early 2000s soil erosion has largely held steady. This reflects a flat trend for adoption of no till and reduced till practices recently and a relatively modest adoption of cover crops to date. Understanding why conservation tillage adoption has plateaued will be key to driving future improvements in soil conservation.
- Assessment of biodiversity and water quality trends highlight multiple environmental benefits from strategic placement of diverse, perennial vegetation including native grasslands within crop landscapes.
“Since 2009, the National Indicators Report has provided a critical, science-based benchmark for our industry to understand where progress has been made, as well as where our collective efforts are falling short of creating systemic change,” says Allison Thomson, vice president of science and research at Field to Market. “While the research to develop new technologies is critical to success, it is increasingly clear that social science research and community support to address the agronomic and financial risk related to changing productions systems is necessary to achieve sustained transformation of the agricultural system.”
Significant improvement in soil erosion, energy use and greenhouse gas emissions in the 1990s and early 2000s outlined in the report demonstrates that when new technologies and incentives allow farmers to achieve greater efficiency, they will rapidly adopt new practices. As improvements in these areas have flatlined in recent decades, the report underscores the need for the value chain to place renewed focus on understanding the enabling conditions needed for landscape-wide improvements over the next decade.
“As interest in sustainable agriculture grows, we must remember that achieving measurable progress in environmental indicators relies on complex decision-making at the farm level,” says Brandon Hunnicutt, Nebraska farmer and Chair of Field to Market. “Where progress has stalled, our industry must understand and create the enabling conditions that support widespread transition to sustainable practices, including providing farmers with financial incentives, technical assistance and peer learning opportunities.”
In addition to assessing sustainability performance by crop, the National Indicators Report also provides national-level trends on biodiversity, soil carbon and water quality, providing landscape-level analysis on three critical indicators where publicly available data is insufficient to draw conclusions on crop-specific performance. Where previous versions of the report included sections on socioeconomic indicators, Field to Market recently released individual, peer-reviewed reports on farm financial well-being as well as responsible pest management, elevating analysis of national level trends related to both topics.
For more information on the report’s key findings or to explore sustainability trends for specific crops in greater detail, go to https://fieldtomarket.org/national-indicators-report/
Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy Joins FFAR to Reduce Methane Emissions from Cattle
The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, a NACSAA partner, has joined the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) to create the Greener Cattle Initiative, an industry-oriented consortium that will award approximately $5 million over the next five years to fund research that provides beef and cattle producers with solutions for enteric methane emission mitigation to curb the escalating climate crisis.
Enteric methane is the single largest source of direct greenhouse gas emissions in the beef and dairy sectors. Methane is emitted on farms through two primary sources: manure degradation and enteric fermentation. Enteric fermentation is part of the normal digestive process in ruminants, with methane emissions primarily resulting from animals belching or exhaling.
While several efforts to advance the sustainability of livestock production are currently underway, few specifically address enteric methane emissions – despite the potential to improve animal productivity and move the dairy and beef sectors toward net zero emissions.
“Although mitigation of enteric methane from ruminants is not a novel field of research, many challenges remain to identify, develop and validate effective mitigation options that will also meet farmer and broad socioeconomic needs,” said Dr. Juan Tricarico, vice president for sustainability research at the Innovation Center.
The Greener Cattle Initiative brings together stakeholders from across the dairy and beef value chains to leverage investments in the research and development of practices and technologies that reduce enteric methane emissions. The initiative is informed by producers and animal health, genetic, feed and nutrition research organizations and companies. It also serves as a vehicle for multiple stakeholders to share knowledge and accelerate the development of scalable and commercially feasible technologies that reduce enteric methane emissions and enable the production of sustainable beef and dairy, sponsors say.
The combination of industry expertise, resources and commitment to innovative research creates a substantial opportunity to reduce enteric methane emissions, Innovation Center officials say, adding that to address climate change, mitigating enteric methane emissions can be a solution that benefits producers, animals and the environment.
The Greener Cattle Initiative supports research in the following areas:
- Feed additives and supplements that inhibit enteric methane emissions
- Feed ingredients that alter metabolic pathways to reduce enteric methane emissions
- Genetic selection of cattle that emit less methane
- Increased understanding of microbiome composition and activity in cattle
- Technologies such as sensors, robots and artificial intelligence to monitor enteric methane emissions or related physiological indicators
- Socioeconomic analysis of enteric methane mitigation practices and technologies
Requests for proposals will be distributed globally to identify the most promising research that impacts commercial dairy and beef production.
The Innovation Center is providing cash and program management contributions valued at approximately $1.2 million. FFAR is matching industry contributions up to at least $2.5 million. Additional founding participants include ADM, the Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding (CDCB), Elanco, Genus PLC, the National Dairy Herd Information Association, Nestlé and the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre (NZAGRC). In addition to supporting program development, each organization committed $200,000 in funding to the program.
New USDA CSA Finance Initiative
To develop climate solutions that strengthen rural America, USDA is partnering with agriculture and forestry interests, as well as with rural communities, to finance the deployment of climate-smart farming and forestry practices to aid in the marketing of climate-smart agricultural commodities.
Under the Climate Smart Agriculture and Forestry Partnership Initiative, the Agriculture Department will support a set of pilot projects that provide incentives to implement climate smart conservation practices on working lands, and to quantify and monitor the carbon and greenhouse gas benefits associated with those practices. The initiative, which is designed to complement and supplement existing private sector and state compliance markets for carbon offsets, represents an effort to monetize the value of ecosystem services in the price farmers receive for the commodities they produce.
USDA says the initiative is part of the Biden administration “whole-of-government” approach to addressing the climate crisis. The department aims to use climate-smart agriculture and forestry partnerships to enhance and create new markets and streams of income for farmers, ranchers, producers and private foresters; as well as strengthen rural economies. Meanwhile, an improvement is expected from the project in the protocols used to measure, monitor and track carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emissions.
In describing the initiative at COP 26 in Glasgow, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack observed that agricultural producers are on the frontlines of climate change, facing extreme weather, drought and fire.
Guided by science, the initiative aims to support projects that create new market opportunities for commodities using climate-smart practices. The pilots will invest in the science, monitoring and verification to measure the benefits of the climate smart practices.
The concept of – and opportunity for – new or expanded markets for climate-smart commodities is not new. But there are barriers that have prevented these markets from reaching scale, including:
- Failure to provide opportunities for “early adopters” to participate and;
- The lack of standard definitions of climate-smart commodities;
- Lack of clear standards for measurement of climate benefits of CSAF practices;
- Potential for double-counting benefits;
- High transaction costs;
- Limited ability for small producer participation;
- Lack of efficient supply chain traceability; and
- High risk of market entry.
Given those impediments, the department says that areas to be taken under consideration in developing the initiative include the current state of climate-smart commodity markets; systems for quantification; options and criteria for evaluation; the use of information collected; potential protocols; options for review and verification; and the inclusion of historically underserved communities.
New USDA Climate Adaptation and Resilience Plan
USDA has released its climate adaptation and resilience plan describing how USDA will prepare for current and future impacts of climate change. The Adaptation Plan identifies key climate threats to agriculture and forestry and outlines five cross-cutting adaptation actions USDA can take, including:
- Build resilience across landscapes with investments in soil and forest health.
- Increase outreach and education to promote adoption and application of climate-smart adaptation strategies.
- Broaden access to and availability of climate data at regional and local scales for USDA Mission Areas, producers, land managers, and other stakeholders.
- Increase support for research and development of climate-smart practices and technologies to inform USDA and help producers and land managers adapt to a changing climate.
- Leverage the USDA Climate Hubs as a framework to support USDA Mission Areas in delivering adaptation science, technology, and tools.
The USDA Climate Hubs will continue to play an integral role in climate adaptation (see Adaptation in Action) through their regionally tailored outreach activities and work across USDA Mission Areas to connect climate adaptation science and practice. USDA agencies, staff offices, and Mission Areas are developing detailed strategies to integrate climate thinking throughout their activities, programs, and operations that will foster a culture of sustained climate risk management across USDA.
USDA to Offer Up to $800 Million in Economic Relief to Biofuel Producers, Restore Renewable Fuel Markets Hit by the Pandemic
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Dec. 7 that the USDA, a NACSAA partner organization, will make up to $800 million available to support biofuel producers and infrastructure. The announcement includes $700 million to provide economic relief to biofuel producers and restore renewable fuel markets affected by the pandemic.
The department will make the funds available through the new Biofuel Producer Program authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).
Additionally, in the coming months, the department will make $100 million available to increase significantly the sales and use of higher blends of bioethanol and biodiesel by expanding the infrastructure for renewable fuels derived from U.S. agricultural products.
“USDA is providing direct relief to the people of rural America who are still reeling from the economic impacts of the pandemic,” Vilsack said. “As we continue to rebuild the nation’s economy, USDA is targeting resources and investments to improve the strength and resiliency of America’s sustainable fuel markets. The relief we’re announcing today will pave the way to economic recovery for America’s biofuel producers, stimulate a critical market for U.S. farmers and ranchers and move the country closer to President Biden’s goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.”
Through the Biofuel Producer Program, USDA will make up to $700 million in direct payments available for biofuel producers who faced unexpected market losses due to the pandemic. The USDA will announce the official application window for this program within the coming week.
By making payments to biofuels producers, the program will help agricultural producers maintain and create more viable markets for products that supply biofuel production, such as corn, soybeans, or biomass. Payments will be based on the producer’s market loss volume in 2020, which is calculated by the amount of fuel produced in 2020 in comparison to 2019.
The department intends to make up to $100 million available in new funds for grants for biofuels infrastructure, such as blender pumps which ensure biofuels have greater availability in the retail market. The funding will provide grants to refueling and distribution facilities for cost of installation, retrofitting or otherwise upgrading of infrastructure required at a location to ensure the environmentally safe availability of fuel containing bioethanol blends of E-15 and greater, or fuel containing biodiesel blends B-20 and greater. USDA will announce the official application window for grants within the coming months.
This announcement comes on the heels of an announcement from the Environmental Protection Agency (proposing a package of actions setting biofuels volumes for years 2022, 2021, and 2020, and introducing regulatory changes intended to enhance the program’s objectives. In addition, EPA is asking for public comment on a proposed decision to deny petitions to exempt small refineries from RFS program requirements. Read the full announcement at www.epa.gov/newsroom.
AIM for Climate
In an effort to mobilize innovation in the global effort to stem climate change, the United States and the United Arab Emirate announced in Glasgow the official launch of the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM for Climate). The initiative is designed to increase investment in climate-smart agriculture and food system innovation over five years.
Proponents of AIM for Climate, which now has the support of well more than 30 nations and scores of agricultural, business, academic and civic organizations, including SfL, say the initiative aims to address the climate crisis by uniting participants to significantly increase and accelerate investment in and support for innovation and technology and other advances in climate-smart agriculture systems and practices over the next five years. The initiative garnered investments of $4 billion early on.
The initiative is designed to drive more rapid and transformative climate action in the agricultural sector, optimizing agriculture’s role as part of the solution to address the climate crisis, build resilience to its impacts, and create co-benefits of climate action. Project sponsors, recognize the wide range of participants that will be necessary to achieve its goal and are seeking to draw on diverse knowledge, experiences and cultures.
Florida Ag Leaders Aim to Enhance Sustainability; Protect Gulf Coast
The Florida Climate Smart Agriculture work group (FLCSA), sponsored and supported by Solutions from the Land (SfL) and the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), announced Dec. 8 the launch of the Healthy Farms-Healthy Bays (HF-HB) initiative.
Through this new initiative, the FLCSA will collaborate with aligned partners in connecting upland farmers and ranchers with downstream aquatic ecosystem stakeholders in a joint effort to: enhance sustainability of agricultural operations; and improve water quality, fisheries and habitat in key Gulf Coast bays and estuaries.
Beginning in the Suwannee River watershed, the FLCSA will help farmers experiment with solution pathways and tactics that reduce external inputs, close nutrient loops, regenerate soils and concurrently produce agricultural and food products, protect and renew ecosystems and provide multiple services and benefits to the farm enterprise and to society.
The goal is to build on existing restoration plans and projects, using best available science and leading technical advisors, to achieve a new future – a future in which healthy and productive bays, rivers and streams across the peninsula are underpinned and supported by a vibrant and sustainable agricultural economy.
“The HF-HB project aims to utilize the assets available to enhance the sustainability of agricultural operations and improve water quality, fisheries and habitat in key Gulf Coast bays and estuaries,” said FLCSA leaders Randall Dasher and Ed Chiles. Dasher is a peanut and seed crop producer from McAlpin, FL; and Chiles is the owner of Gamble Creek Organics and a founding member of the Gulf Shellfish Institute.
FLCSA is a multi-stakeholder effort led by farmers in partnership with conservation, environmental, business, health, academic and government partners and leaders.
An inaugural meeting of the HF-HB leadership team is set for Jan. 6 in Cedar Key at the University of Florida’s Nature Coast Biological Station.
Senate Mulls BBBA with Big Outlays for Ag-Related Climate Action
Work continues in the Senate on the administration’s proposed Build Back Better Act (BBBA), which was passed narrowly in the House last month and contains provisions that make critical investments in efforts to combat the climate crisis by farmers, ranchers, foresters and rural communities.
The movement in the Senate follow House action on the BBBA that set aside money for biofuel Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) has said the $1.75-trillion measure “grows jobs in rural communities and invests in solutions to the climate crisis to help strengthen our future.” She said the bill could “scale up climate-smart agriculture programs that farmers, foresters, and rural businesses use to protect resources and be more energy efficient. It invests in rural prosperity and helps rural communities transition to cleaner energy.”
The measure would invest some $28.29 billion in “historic” conservation programs and support for farmers and producers, along with $5 billion for Soil Conservation Assistance for producers who establish cover crops for soil health, offering $25 an acre for up to 1,000 acres.
Farm bill conservation programs, which have traditionally been overenrolled, would also get a boost, including an additional $9 billion for the USDA’s Environmental Quality Incentive Program; $3.75 billion for the Conservation Stewardship Program; $1.25 billion for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program; and $7.15 billion for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program.
Some $200 million is set aside in the bill to fund conservation technical assistance through the department’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS); $50 million for the USDA’s regional climate hubs; and $600 million for NRCS to carryout out a carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emissions quantification program.
In the House last month, the BBBA was sent to the Senate with nearly $1 billion in funding set aside for the USDA to provide grants over the next 10 years to expand biofuel pump infrastructure, upgrade existing tanks and pumps, and increase usage of higher blends of ethanol and biodiesel.
The proposal from the House also includes a four-year extension of the biodiesel tax credit, which was set to expire at the end of 2022, and provides a new tax credit to support the creation and usage of Sustainable Aviation Fuel, opening a new and growing market for biofuels and biodiesel.
Next Generation Fuels Act Provided Pathway to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions Now
The Next Generations Fuels Act, introduced in late August, is said by sponsors to be part of a multifaceted way forward to enable the widest possible range of technologies and practices that can stem climate change.
Introduced in late August by Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL) and fellow Democratic Reps. Emmanuel Cleaver (MO) and Cynthia Axne (IA), along with Republican Reps. Jason Smith (MO), James Comer (KY) and Darin LaHood (IL), the bill represents what the lawmakers say is a new frontier in the quest to mitigate climate change.
The legislators also say the measure will improve liquid transportation fuel quality and incentivize vehicle technologies that simultaneously reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and improve fuel economy. The bill represents what supporters say is the first step in the legislative and regulatory process to transition our nation’s gasoline supply to higher octane fuel. The measure aims to not only reduce climate-altering greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, but also improve air quality and public health by replacing harmful carcinogenic compounds with cleaner renewable fuels.
The measure would establish a minimum fuel octane level of 98 Research Octane Number, or RON, an increase from today’s regular gasoline, which is 91 RON. The higher the fuel’s octane number, the more resistant it will be to knock, which is the explosively damaging and uncontrolled combustion of fuel in an engine’s combustion chambers. Higher-octane fuels allow engine manufacturers to design more powerful and fuel-efficient engines.
Blending in cleaner-burning ethanol to boost a fuel’s octane rating is far superior to using aromatics like benzene, toluene ethylbenzene and xylene, known as the BTEX complex –that come from the petroleum refinery process and are both expensive and toxic. Due to ethanol’s high-octane rating, a low carbon, high octane ethanol blend results in both additional fuel efficiency and significant GHG reduction benefits. Ethanol is also priced lower than gasoline, making it the most cost-effective octane source.
By increasing the octane rating of the nation’s fuel, automakers will be able to use advanced engine design features that increase engine performance and significantly improve vehicle fuel efficiency – from 5 to 7 percent. Improving fuel quality will also result in significantly less GHGs than unblended gasoline. The legislation would require that the sources of additional octane in the new 98 RON fuel result in at least 30 percent fewer GHGs than unblended gasoline, reducing emissions by at least 11 percent, compared to current regular gasoline.
By removing barriers to blends of ethanol up to 30 percent, the legislation harmonizes regulations to both credit the full benefits of higher ethanol blends and ensure that vehicles and fueling infrastructure are ready.
Current fuel standards limit the use of the advanced engine technologies available to improve efficiency, leaving automakers few options to meet higher fuel economy standards. Bustos’ legislation requires that the sources of additional octane in the new 98 RON fuel result in at least 30 percent fewer greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than unblended gasoline, reducing emissions by at least 11 percent, compared to current regular gasoline.
By requiring that octane come from low carbon sources, the proposed legislation further decarbonizes liquid fuels as vehicle technologies advance. The requirement, coupled with a new limit on harmful aromatics content like BTEX complex, ensures a continuation of the progress already being made to lower emissions through the replacement of harmful petroleum-based gasoline components with cleaner renewable fuels.
Recent work by Steffen Mueller, principal economist at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Energy Resources Center, shows that like electric vehicles (EVs), ethanol-gasoline blends provide substantial greenhouse gas reductions relative to gasoline-only vehicles. In fact, he says, high-octane fuel vehicles with ethanol provide very similar GHG savings compared to EVs for many states.
Importantly, E85 and high-octane plug-in hybrids represent the lowest GHG-emitting technology as these vehicles are both able to take advantage of the low carbon intensity of ethanol in their combustion engine and the low carbon intensity of the electricity grid in hybrid mode of operation. Ethanol at high blend levels can provide immediate GHG benefits while EV adoption within the U.S. fleet increases.
Other News We Are Reading
Approximately three billion people, almost 40 percent of the world’s population, cannot afford a healthy diet and another one billion people could join their ranks should further unpredictable events reduce incomes by one-third, the UN food agency said in a new report. The Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) 2021 State of Food and Agriculture (SOFA) report – Making Agrifood Systems More Resilient to Shocks and Stresses – states that, without proper preparation, unpredictable shocks will continue to undermine these systems. The report defines shocks as short-term events that have negative effects on a system, people’s well-being, assets, livelihoods, safety and ability to withstand future shocks. (Read more…)
The world is facing a new era of rapidly increasing food prices that could push almost 2 billion more people into hunger in a worst-case climate crisis, but farmers aren’t sitting idle and are trying to adapt. Global crop yields could fall about 30 percent because of climate change, even as food demand is expected to jump 50 percent in the coming decades, according to United Nations’ estimates. With scientists predicting that extreme weather events will only worsen in the decades ahead, farmers around the globe are taking things into their own hands – they’re swapping crops, switching seeds, increasing irrigation. Some are even putting face masks on their cows in the battle to both increase output and reduce their own emissions. Companies are also taking action. Syngenta Group, the Swiss agrichemicals giant, is developing new varieties for vegetables like cabbages that are more resistant to extreme weather. (Read more…)
Climate change has and will continue to cause changes in weather and climate across the world. For many parts of the developing world, these changes are life or death – changes in rainfall, heat, and climate variability can mean crops failing, and more of the population going without food. Enter the Fatick region of Senegal. Within one of the least developed countries in the world, 58 percent of the region live in poverty on less than two dollars a day. Crops, such as millet, cassava, and maize, are grown almost entirely with the help of rainfall. A good year or a bad year for rain has a direct correlation with how much there is to eat. But even with these circumstances, a new study out of the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona shows that local and indigenous knowledge of crops and climate can make a huge difference in how much there is to eat. (Read more…)
Modern farms on the Canadian Prairies are caught in the cross-currents of multiple fundamental changes, including a decline in the number of farms, an increase in average farm size, growing fertilizer and pesticide use, and the rising costs of inputs, land, machinery, and other expenses. On top of these, climate change will fundamentally affect the future of farming in the region. The Prairies face a number of critical risks, from flooding to heat waves and invasive pests, that could jeopardize agricultural productivity and producer livelihoods. Producers may also be affected by the impacts of climate policies in export markets and changing consumer behaviors in response to climate change concerns. (Read more…)
Partner News and Events
Family Farm Alliance Annual Conference Set for Feb. 24-25 in Reno
The Family Farm Alliance will hold its Annual Conference – themed “Those in the Arena” – in Reno, NV, on Feb. 24 and 25. Alliance leaders say they look forward to gathering members in person after the virtual conference held last February. They urge those attending to register today to join prominent Western water policy makers for dynamic presentations and discussions from the most effective grassroots irrigated agricultural organization in the West.
“It has been a challenging year as farmers, ranchers and water managers face unprecedented drought,” alliance leaders say in promoting the conference. “Join us in Reno –’The Biggest Little City in the World’ ‑ for an impactful conference and the opportunity for an insightful tour of the Derby Dam Fish Screen.”
What to expect at the conference:
- Reclamation Roundtable featuring U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Camille Touton, Regional Directors, and other top Reclamation officials
- A Look at D.C. From the Hill – Mark Limbaugh moderates this panel of Democrat and Republican staff from key congressional water committees
- Report from Glasgow – Hear from Alliance President Pat O’Toole and other leaders of Solutions from the Land who served as delegates at COP26
- The Western Water Infrastructure Coalition “behind the scenes” of the effort that succeeded in achieving $8.3 billion for Western water infrastructure
- Colorado River – Hear how agricultural water interests from the Continental Divide to the Mexican border are helping decision-makers facing shortages due to drought and over-allocation
- Technology and Innovation in Western Water Management
- Plus, Western regulatory and litigation updates, appearances by top Biden Administration appointees, and much, much more!
The full agenda will be shared as the conference date nears.
Those who register by December 17 will receive the “Super Saver Discount.” You may register ONLINE, or by mail using a registration form found HERE. More information on the conference is now on the Alliance’s Events page.
Join “Those in the Arena” and see how meaningful solutions to Western water challenges are forged at the Family Farm Alliance’s 2022 Annual Meeting and Conference set for Feb. 24-25 at the Silver Legacy Resort.
The North America Climate Smart Agriculture Alliance (NACSAA) is a farmer-led platform for inspiring, educating, and equipping agricultural partners to innovate effective local adaptations that sustain productivity, enhance climate resilience, and contribute to the local and global goals for sustainable development.
NACSAA reflects and embraces all scales of agriculture in Canada, Mexico and the United States, ranging from small landholders to midsize and large-scale producers. NACSAA encourages climate smart agriculture (CSA) strategies to enhance the adaptive capacity of North American agriculture to changing climate conditions and works to achieve this goal through three complementary strategies: 1) sustainably increasing agricultural productivity and livelihoods (i.e. sustainable intensification); 2) enhancing adaptive capacity and improving resilience; and 3) delivering ecosystem services, sequestering carbon, and reducing and/or avoiding greenhouse gas emissions.