July 2020


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 info@SfLDialogue.net.

NACSAA in Action

Webinar on House Climate Committee Report Set for Aug. 6


NACSAA and SfL Partners are invited to join us for a 90-minute webinar Aug. 6 on the Climate Crisis Action Plan drafted by the majority staff of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis (HSCCC).


Last spring, NACSAA submitted over 50 enabling policy recommendations to the Committee. The Alliance’s submission was constructed from input gathered from NACSAA members, including agriculture, food production, equipment manufacturing, life science and conservation organizations.



In developing the suggestions for the Select Committee, NACSAA put together a collective body of work that, while not drawing unanimous endorsement from every member on every item, presents a composite consensus of important climate change enabling policies evolving from North American agricultural stakeholders. Together, they reinforce comments and recommendations offered by individual NACSAA members and stakeholder partners in support of climate innovation and sustainable production in the United States.


Featured speakers for this interactive Zoom webinar, which will take place from 1 -2:30 p.m. EDT, include:

  • Ray Gaesser, Enabling Policies Chair- NACSAA’s recommendations
  • Jeremy Peters, CEO, National Association of Conservation Districts- conservation programs
  • Brian Jennings, CEO, American Council for Ethanol- biofuels
  • Pat O’Toole, President, Family Farm Alliance- water issues
  • Roger Wolf, Director of Innovation and Integrated Solutions, Iowa Soybean Assn.- soil carbon/ health and nutrient management
  • Fred Yoder, NACSAA Chair- next steps

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to Shannon Mott at [email protected]

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.


Global Work Program Continues ‘Virtually’ in Face of Pandemic


SfL/NACSAA work representing agriculture on the global stage of climate change negotiations continues, despite the disruptions stemming from the global CLOVID-19 pandemic. While the outbreak has forced the postponement or cancellation of nearly all in-person meetings, virtual meetings are substituting for face-to-face negotiation sessions.


Earlier this month, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization announced that the 2020 Committee on Food Security annual meeting was moving to a virtual event set for Oct. 13-15. That will be followed by a full plenary session, tentatively set for February 8-12, 2021 in Rome, pending approval by the FAO governing council.


SfL is submitting a proposal to organize a side event at one or both sessions where our representatives will spotlight climate smart agriculture systems and practices farmers are using to deliver high value solutions to improve food and nutrition security, all while simultaneously enhancing health and livelihoods, improving the environment, enhancing biodiversity and delivering high value terrestrial solutions to climate change.


Focusing on outcomes, our farmer and rancher presenters will showcase how they are harnessing innovation and technology, coupled with conservation and agroecology systems and practices to meet global sustainable development goals (SDGs).


This side event will target a diverse range of stakeholders actively seeking to shape the way agriculture is performed across the planet, including farmers. The side event will present a special emphasis on women and youth, value chain partners, civil society, government and agencies that could benefit from solution pathways that achieve multiple objectives.


As for the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture, the UN Climate Change Secretariat has confirmed that the next negotiating session, previously set for October 4-12 in Bonn, has been postponed. Like all other UN platforms, work will proceed using virtual convenings until early next year at the soonest.


SfL’s next submission, which will address topics not covered in prior calls for submissions, is due Sept. 28.


Featured News

How to Tackle Climate Change,

Food Security and Land Degradation


How can some of world’s biggest problems – climate change, food security and land degradation – be tackled simultaneously?


Some lesser-known options, such as integrated water management and increasing the organic content of soil, have fewer trade-offs than many well-known options, such as planting trees, according to a Rutgers-led study in the journal Global Change Biology.


“We argue that if we want to have an impact on multiple problems, we need to be smart about what options get us multiple benefits and which options come with potential trade-offs,” said lead author Pamela McElwee, an associate professor in the Department of Human Ecology in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences at Rutgers University-New Brunswick. “We found that many of the better-known solutions to climate mitigation and land degradation come with a lot of potentially significant trade-offs.”


The idea of planting trees in vast areas to remove carbon dioxide from the air and reduce the impact of climate change, for example, has attracted a lot of attention, with some claiming it’s the best “low-hanging fruit” approach to pursue, McElwee said. But large-scale tree planting could conflict directly with food security because both compete for available land. It could also diminish biodiversity, if fast-growing exotic trees replace native habitat.


Some potential options that don’t get as much attention globally, but are quite promising with fewer trade-offs, include integrated water management, reducing post-harvest losses in agriculture, improving fire management, agroforestry (integrating trees and shrubs with croplands and pastures) and investing in disaster risk management, she said.


The study examined possible synergies and trade-offs with environmental and development goals. It was based on a massive literature review – essentially 1,400 individual literature reviews – conducted by scientists at many institutions. They compared 40 options to tackle the interrelated problems of climate change, food security and land degradation and looked for trade-offs or co-benefits with 18 categories of services provided by ecosystems, such as clean air and clean water, and the United Nations’ 17 sustainable development goals.


The work was done as part of an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Climate Change and Land released last year. Such reports offer only highlights, and this study includes all the details.


ACE Commends House Climate Committee for Acknowledging Ethanol Is Part of the Solution to Reduce GHG Emissions


The American Coalition for Ethanol commended the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis (HSCCC) for recognizing the role of biofuels in reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) by advocating a Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS).


In a report providing recommendations for future legislation in Congress to tackle climate change, the Select Committee included among its recommendations that Congress should develop a technology-neutral LCFS.


ACE CEO Brian Jennings said an LCFS would reward farmers and biofuel producers for using climate-smart practices.


“It is gratifying so many in Congress are recognizing that increasing the use of ethanol is part of the solution to further reduce [GHGs],” Jennings said. “Properly crafted low carbon fuel policy built on top of the Renewable Fuel Standard’s success in beginning to break our country’s reliance on petroleum is one of the most meaningful things Congress can do to address climate change.”


Jennings cited “the strategic spade work” ACE has been doing to leverage ethanol’s low carbon benefits in the market.


“In 2018 we issued a white paper, “The Case for Properly Valuing the Low Carbon Benefits of Corn Ethanol,” illustrating how lifecycle modeling needs to better reflect modern-day farming practices and ethanol production technologies and why increasing ethanol use is part of the solution to further reduce GHG emissions,” the ACE CEO said.


In 2019, the coalition helped lead a diverse set of stakeholders in developing a framework to encourage new low carbon fuel markets in the Midwest.


“Our January 2020 report, ‘A Clean Fuels Policy for the Midwest,’ describes how properly crafted policy can spur low carbon fuels, reduce costs to consumers, and provide meaningful economic benefits to farmers and biofuel producers,” Jennings said.


The committee’s report “not only cites our Midwest Clean Fuel Policy framework as a positive example of progress, it also mirrors our recommendations to reflect the best-available science for lifecycle assessments and reward farmers and biofuel producers using climate-smart practices that reduce carbon emissions, store soil carbon, and reduce nitrous oxide emissions,” he said.


Jennings cited the select committee’s recommendation of what it describes as a “zero-emission vehicle” standard, but said ACE believes a new vehicle program needs to be “technology-neutral and include production of more Flexible Fuel Vehicles (FFVs) that can take full advantage of carbon-negative ethanol fuels.”


The ACE chief said his organization appreciates “the collaborative nature” of the congressional process on the issue to date and anticipates “constructively engaging in supporting solutions that benefit our climate, drivers, and our rural economy.”


Farming, Biofuels, Public Interest Groups

Challenge EPA on SAFE Rule


A broad coalition of ethanol, agriculture, and public interest groups are challenging the Trump administration’s recent fuel efficiency rulemaking, on that grounds that it downplays the harm from reduced emission standards, ignores the efficiency and health benefits of higher ethanol blends, and fails to realize the promise of increased octane in gasoline.


The rule in question, known as the Safer Affordable Fuel Efficiency Vehicle Rule (SAFER), was finalized on April 30, 2020, reversing an Obama-era rule that called for significant improvements in vehicle efficiency. Issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), it established a 1.5 percent increase in efficiency each year for light-duty vehicles, far short of the 5 percent increase in the existing rule. In the notice of proposed rulemaking, EPA requested information on octane levels and how they could be increased in accordance with the Clean Air Act, but ultimately failed to address these concerns in the final rule.


In response to what the groups call “EPA’s failure to credibly consider and advance mid-level ethanol fuel blends as an alternative to conventional fuels,” they filed a petition for review in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.


The legal challenge, which is being led by National Farmers Union (NFU), also includes the Governors Biofuel Coalition, the Clean Fuels Development Coalition, the Environment and Energy Study Institute, several NFU state and regional divisions, Glacial Lakes Energy, Siouxland Ethanol, and the Urban Air Initiative. Previously, the group filed comments focused on octane and related issues.


“There is strong evidence that ethanol can improve fuel efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, all while providing new markets for farmers and bolstering rural economies,” said NFU President Rob Larew. “Given their benefits, NFU advocated a clear path to adoption of mid-level ethanol blends in our earlier comments – which EPA all but ignored. As such, NFU is well-positioned to advance this legal challenge against the agency.”


Additionally, in accordance with Title II of the Clean Air Act, EPA is required to reduce toxics in gasoline to the greatest extent possible as new technologies become available, the groups say.


“Higher ethanol blends are that technology, and they are available today,” said South Dakota Farmers Union President Doug Sombke. “We know that widespread implementation of these blends would result greatly reduce toxics as well as provide a significant octane boost.”


The petitioners believe this action will require EPA to defend a flawed cost-benefit analysis and faulty assumptions regarding the emissions and harm associated with the toxic and carcinogenic aromatic compounds refiners currently use for octane in traditional fossil fuels.


IRENA Puts Energy Transformation at Heart

Of Sustainable Recovery Agenda


Governments can align immediate economic stimulus needs with medium to long-term decarbonization and sustainable development objectives by targeting policy measures and public spending towards energy transformation, a new report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) finds.


Post-COVID recovery: An agenda for resilience, development and equality outlines immediate stimulus action for the next three years (2021-2023) as well as measures for a mid-term 2030 recovery perspective over the next decade. It provides practical insights and recommendations for governments as they drive investment and policy actions for post-COVID-19 economies.


The report shows that on an annual basis, scaling-up public and private energy spending to $4.5 trillion per year would boost the world economy by an additional 1.3 percent, creating 19 million additional energy transition-related jobs by 2030. Jobs in renewables alone could triple to 30 million by 2030. Every million dollars invested in renewables would create three times more jobs than in fossil fuels.


“Renewables have proven to be the most resilient energy sources throughout the current crisis”, said Francesco La Camera, Director-General of IRENA. “This evidence should allow governments to take immediate investment decisions and policy responses to overcome the crisis. With today’s recovery plan for governments, IRENA uses its global mandate on energy transitions to inform decision-making at this critical time, while staying on course toward a fully decarbonized system by 2050.


Doubling annual transition investments to $2 trillion over the next three years will provide an effective stimulus and can leverage private sector investments by a factor 3-4. Reforming fossil fuel prices, retiring fossil fuel assets, driving green financing and bailouts, and strategically investing in energy transition must be immediate priorities, IRENA’s report advises.


The annual $2 trillion invested would boost GDP by 1 percent and create additional 5.5 million transition-related jobs in three years. Underpinning labor and industrial policies are required to leverage local capacities and skills and create industries and jobs across the value chain.


Any recovery strategy should include innovative solutions and emerging technologies such as green hydrogen with the potential to eventually deliver a net zero energy system. By investing in their commercialization, governments and businesses can ensure sustained long-term growth.


Renewable-based power generation would become the backbone of future energy markets, supported by transition-related industries like battery storage. But renewable heating and cooling must also be scaled up along with energy efficiency. Renewable-based transport scan expand with incentives for electric vehicles (EVs) and continued infrastructure investment (including smart grids and EV charging stations), as well as emerging fuel solutions.


“Now is the time to invest in a better future”, said La Camera. “Government policies and investment choices can create the necessary momentum to enact systemic change and deliver the energy transformation away from fossil fuels. Driving a structural shift towards cleaner energy systems and more resilient economies and societies is more urgent than ever. Most of all, this is a global agenda, and we must leave no one behind.”




Other News We Are Reading…

Global Methane Emissions Soar to Record High

(Science Daily)


The pandemic has tugged carbon emissions down, temporarily. But levels of the powerful heat-trapping gas methane continue to climb, dragging the world further away from a path that skirts the worst effects of global warming. Methane emissions have reached the highest levels on record. Increases are being driven primarily by growth of emissions from coal mining, oil and natural gas production, cattle and sheep ranching, and landfills. Between 2000 and 2017, levels of the potent greenhouse gas barreled up toward pathways that climate models suggest will lead to 3-4 degrees Celsius of warming before the end of this century. This is a dangerous temperature threshold at which scientists warn that natural disasters, including wildfires, droughts and floods, and social disruptions such as famines and mass migrations become almost commonplace. In 2017, the last year when complete global methane data are available, Earth’s atmosphere absorbed nearly 600 million tons of the colorless, odorless gas that is 28 times more powerful than carbon dioxide at trapping heat over a 100-year span. More than half of all methane emissions now come from human activities. Annual methane emissions are up 9 percent, or 50 million tons per year, from the early 2000s, when methane concentrations in the atmosphere were relatively stable. Read more…


Ethanol’s COVID-Related Economic Losses Could Reach $9 Billion by 2021

(Renewable Fuels Association)


The COVID-19 crisis has already led to more than $3.4 billion in lost revenues for the U.S. ethanol industry, according to an economic analysis released by the Renewable Fuels Association. Based on the latest projections from the Energy Information Administration and the Food and Agriculture Policy Research Institute, the RFA study also found that pandemic-related damages in 2020 and 2021 could reach nearly $9 billion. The new study uses empirical data to assess the actual impact of COVID-19 on the ethanol industry to date.  For the period running from March through June 2020, the study found that the cumulative decline in ethanol production and consumption exceeded 1.3 billion gallons. Furthermore, nearly 500 million fewer bushels of corn were used in ethanol production during the period and industry revenues from ethanol and co-products sales were reduced by over $3.4 billion due to the combination of reduced output and lower prices. Based on EIA and FAPRI projections and assuming current market conditions do not deteriorate, total pandemic-related revenue losses for the industry could approach $7 billion in 2020 and $1.8 billion in 2021. Read more…


Global Food Markets Still Brace for Uncertainty in 2020/21 Due to COVID-19

(UN Food and Agriculture Organization)


Food markets will face many more months of uncertainty due to COVID-19, but the agri-food sector is likely to show more resilience to the pandemic crisis than other sectors, according to a new report released today by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. The analysis provides the first forecasts for production and market trends in 2020-2021 for the world’s most traded food commodities – cereals, oilcrops, meat, dairy, fish and sugar. “The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have been felt – at varying degrees – across all food sectors assessed by FAO,” said Boubaker Ben-Belhassen, director of the FAO Trade and Markets Division. “While COVID-19 has posed a serious threat to food security, overall, our analysis shows that from the global perspective, agricultural commodity markets are proving to be more resilient to the pandemic than many other sectors. That said, owing to the size of the challenge and the enormous uncertainties associated with it, the international community must remain vigilant and ready to react, if and when necessary.” Read more…



Partner News and CSA Events


SE Regional Climate Hub Offers Hurricane Prep, and Recovery Guides


People who live and work in the Southeastern United States are unfortunately familiar with the devastation and loss of life and property that can accompany a hurricane event. While hurricanes have always been a threat to the Southeast, with an average of over two strikes per year since 1900, the threat posed by hurricanes is growing.


Recent studies suggest that as ocean temperatures continue to rise, hurricane intensity is increasing. Hurricanes of the future will likely be slower-moving, higher category hurricanes that produce destructive winds and flooding.


To help producers remain resilient and productive in the face of this threat, the USDA Southeast Climate Hub, along other USDA agencies and university Extension experts, developed the guides to help you prepare for and recover from hurricane events.


Commodity guides are being offered for individual states in the region, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.


The State Commodity Guides contain hurricane preparation and recovery guidance and state-specific resource links for the most economically important agricultural commodities in each state.


The Southeast Commodity Guides contain hurricane preparation and recovery guidance and resource links for the most economically important agricultural commodities in the region.


Climate Hub officials are inviting feedback from growers and other stakeholders, noting that to provide the best available guidance, they will update the guides in early 2021 after producers and specialists have had a chance to implement the guidance, assess recommendations, and provide feedback.


They ask that all  comments and suggestions for improving the guides be sent to Michael Gavazzi, USDA Southeast Climate Hub, at [email protected].


USDA Storymap: Growing Degree Day Shifts, Plant Hardiness, Heat Zones


As significant impacts of climate change on natural systems are already evident, it is important to understand how climate change will continue and potentially intensity with time. The USDA Office of Sustainability and Climate has developed an interactive storymap to show what the potential intensification of climate change through this century will look like in the coterminous United States.


The application features three metrics affecting plant growth and survival: growing degree days, plant hardiness zones and heat zones. For each metric, two maps are compared – recent conditions (1980-2009) to possible conditions under a high greenhouse gas emissions scenario (RCP 8.5) at the end of the century (2070-2099).


The juxtaposition of the current and projected maps along with the slider between them allows the user to visualize the significant contrast between the present and future potential high emissions scenario. The metrics are:

  • Growing degree days (GDD) are used to describe the season available for plants to grow and mature. Although GDD varies across the US, the projection shows that the growing season will considerably increase everywhere. Some plant species may benefit from a longer growing season, however the model does not include precipitation estimates.
  • Plant Hardiness Zones (PHZs) demonstrate the amount of stress plants can undergo from cold temperatures. Average annual minimum temperatures determine these zones. With winter temperatures rising, a trend expected to continue, the zones are shifting.
  • Heat zones map the number of days per year with a temperature of 30 degrees C (86 degrees F) or higher. By the end of the century under the high emissions scenario, regions throughout the country will see significant increases in amount of hot days per year.

For each metric, there are links to additional maps, which compare two scenarios of potential climate change (RCPs 4.5 and 8.5) and four different time periods. These potential scenarios demonstrate how climate outcomes can vary depending on human decisions and emissions through this century.


The storymap can be accessed here and the corresponding publication is hosted on the USFS website here.


Meanwhile, the Southeast USDA Climate Hub is developing a set of hurricane preparedness and recovery guides. So far 12 of the 23 commodity guides have been completed, with the other 11 due in the coming month. A link to the guides can be found here.


The guides are meant to be practical tools, and the team developing them would very much welcome your critical feedback.


The plan is to post the guide until December, and then make any necessary corrections or additions before producing hard copies of individual commodity, and state level commodity guides are printer in early 2021.


If you have any questions or suggestions, please reach out to Steve McNulty, who is with Climate Hub in Raleigh,  at [email protected]v.


Webcast Set on Innovation in Forest Carbon Solutions


Join us for a conversation on the role of forests in addressing climate change and how technology can support and scale up forest conservation and restoration efforts around the world.


In this one-hour webcast, GreenBiz Editorial Director Heather Clancy will moderate a discussion with World Resources Institute Deputy Director of Forests Fred Stolle, Verra Chief Innovation Officer Toby Janson-Smith, Pachama CEO Diego Saez-Gil, and Microsoft Carbon Program Manager Liz Willmott on corporate commitments, key trends, and the use of technology to enhance forest carbon projects.

Among the topics:

  • How companies can participate in innovative solutions for climate change
  • The rationale for investing in high quality forest projects
  • The top criteria for vetting forest carbon solutions
  • How technology can help de-risk and scale forest carbon projects


  • Heather Clancy, Editorial Director, GreenBiz Group


  • Fred Stolle, Deputy Director, Forests, World Resources Institute
  • Diego Saez-Gil, CEO & Co-founder, Pachama
  • Toby Janson-Smith, Chief Innovation Officer, Verra
  • Elizabeth Willmott, Carbon Program Manager, Microsoft

To register, click HERE.


For those unable to tune in live, please register and an email will be sent to you with a link to access the archived webcast footage and resources, available on-demand after the webcast.


CDFA, Climate Science Alliance Issue 2020 Climate-Specialty Crops Report


The California Department of Food and Agriculture, in partnership with the Climate Science Alliance, has released the 2020 Climate Change Consortium for Specialty Crops Report for the Southern California Region, which covers three distinct growing regions: San Diego County, South San Joaquin Valley, and Imperial Valley/Inland Desert.


Some of the issues addressed include impacts of drought, weather and precipitation variability; increasing temperatures; and wildfire. Recommendations cover topic areas in planning, incentive funding, research needs, technology advancement, and education and outreach.


To disseminate the new report’s results and provide further opportunities for feedback, the CDFA will hold two webinars later this month.


The report is a reflection of feedback and recommendations from producers and agricultural representatives to better understand climate impacts and challenges, and how best to support farms in building their climate resilience.


This document compiles the input from participants of the 2020 Climate Change Consortium for Specialty Crops that was gathered through a series of workshops, online and paper surveys, one-on-one interviews, and outreach through the Climate Science Alliance’s network of regional partners.


In addition, the document includes an overview of regionally-specific climate projections for Southern California, specific impacts and opportunities for the region’s specialty crop producers, and the strategies, priorities, and research needs identified by participants to advance resilience to climate change.


The development of the global COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic throughout the timespan of these efforts resulted in significant impacts for farmers across the region, necessitating an alternative approach to outreach in order to ensure participation of the region’s producers.


Lessons learned and priority needs identified during these circumstances are also included in the report to ensure the proper support and precautions are put in place so that producers can be resilient to future crises. The circumstances have also clearly demonstrated the importance of the region’s agricultural producers during times of crisis, foretelling of the critical role they will continue to play in a future of more extreme climatic events.


While the input of the 2020 Climate Change Consortium highlights the many challenges Southern California specialty crop producers experience now and could face in the future, it also showcases the many opportunities to elevate agriculture as part of the region’s climate solutions.


As producers continue to adapt and implement new strategies to advance a resilient and thriving agricultural sector, Southern California is emerging at the forefront of new opportunities and innovation, the report shows.


The input of the consortium outlined in the document lays the groundwork for informing and guiding CDFA’s future research activities and funding programs for years to come, department officials say.


CDFA funded the project through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program as a follow up to the statewide Climate Change Consortium effort completed in 2013. Consortium members advised more regional meetings to understand local agricultural challenges resulting from climate change.


The webinars will be held on:

For questions, contact Michael Wolff, Senior Environmental Scientist, at michael.wolff@cdfa.ca.gov.

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