May 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

NACSAA in Action

Upcoming Webinar:  


Agricultural Solutions to Mega Global Challenges

Tuesday, June 9 at 11:00-12pm EDT


Register Now


Dear NACSAA and SfL Partners:


Join us on June 9th for a sixty-minute webinar on innovation and policy pathways

to better enable farmers, ranchers and foresters to adopt CSA systems and practices and be rewarded for delivering solutions to food and nutrition security, climate and other sustainable development goals (SDGs). Featured speakers for this interactive Zoom webinar include:

  • Honorable Kip Tom, U.S. Ambassador to UN based agencies in Rome
  • Robynne Anderson, Secretariat of the International Agri-Food Network
  • Ana Unruh Cohen, Majority Staff Director of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis
  • Fred Yoder, NACSAA Chair, speaking on the status of the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture

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 webinar.


Despite CONVID-19 Shutdown,

Climate Smart Agriculture Work Continues


While nearly all international in-person meetings on climate change have been cancelled or postponed until the fall, work in most UN system platforms is continuing through online virtual conferences and phone calls.


As explained in UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa’s open letter the need for climate ambition has never been more crucial. Although COP 26 has been postponed, work under the climate convention is continuing unabated. Reflecting our commitment to climate action and the SDGs, last month SfL filed the North America Climate Smart Agriculture Alliance’s  (NACSAA),  latest Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture (KJWA) submissions with global climate negotiators.


Under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), NACSAA leaders are currently reviewing the submissions that have been offered on improved livestock management systems (formally designated as topics 2[e]) and socioeconomic and food system dimensions to climate change (2[f]) in the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture in preparation for an intercessional work conference set for October in Bonn, Germany.


Meanwhile, under the auspices of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Committee on Food Security (CFS), work is continuing on the topic of agroecological and other innovative approaches to land management. This week NACSAA representatives will participate in a virtual dialogue with the work stream participants.


Some stakeholders have raised concerns that the Zero Draft, which aims to address food security and nutrition through building a global narrative towards 2030, diverged substantially from the intended topic of the policy processes by not focusing sufficiently on agroecological approaches. Others, including SfL, maintain that agroecology should not be given any priority over other innovative approaches, and that all approaches could potentially be useful.


At the national level, we don’t have any new developments to report on the roll out of the recommendations from the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, other than it will happen before the November elections. We are in the process of scheduling a webinar for NACSAA members where we plan on covering both our national and global CSA submissions to date.


Featured News

CFS-HLPE Issue Paper Cites Need

For Better Food System Resilience


With the COVID-19 pandemic still unfolding, uncertainty, disruption and volatility best define the new norm for the food system, the global economy and life in general.


As noted in an issue paper –  The Impact of COVID-19 on Food security and Nutrition – from the World Food Security Committee’s (CFS) High Level Panel of Experts (HLPE) in Rome, “the pandemic crisis is leading to instability in both local and global food markets, causing a disruption to food supply and availability. The present crisis highlights existing challenges in food systems and emphasizes the need for improved resilience in food supply chains and in food systems more broadly.”


Recommendations offered in the paper  include:

  • Just as management of COVID-19 requires a globally coordinated response, so does its impacts on food security. The CFS should take a lead role in coordinating the global food security policy guidance in response, in close collaboration with other agencies such as the WHO, FAO, WFP and the United Nations Secretary General’s Special Envoy for the preparation of the 2021 World Food Systems Summit.
  • Governments should prioritize the most vulnerable and affected by COVID-19 and its impacts, such as the elderly, the ill, the displaced, and the urban poor. The specific role of women in health and food systems should be recognized, as food producers, processors and carers. Solidarity among people and communities should be promoted and as a priority continue to empower and support everybody to collaborate and cooperate to confront the emerging challenges.
  • Social protection mechanisms for the poorest and most vulnerable people during and in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis need to be employed that incorporate provisions on the Right to Food, both in terms of quantity and nutritional quality. These mechanisms should provide essential assistance in the short-term and support livelihoods in the long-term.

New NRCS Practices to Address Climate Change Issues


The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service has expanded planning and funding related to climate smart farming practices for farms.


Recently the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) broadened its purpose to include new or expected resource concerns for adapting to, and mitigating against, increasing weather volatility; and addressing drought resiliency measures.


Improving soil health is a key component for farm resiliency to long term changes in weather such as increased temperatures and increased rainfall. Increasing soil organic matter can increase a farm’s ability to absorb and hold water, reduce erosion, and increase and retain nutrients.


NRCS planners may have available (depending on the state) for fiscal year 2021 new practices such as:

  • Soil Carbon Amendment (808)
  • Soil Health Conservation Activity Plan (116)
  • Agricultural Energy Design Plan (136)
  • Soil Testing Activity (216)

These are in addition to established NRCS practices that can improve organic matter, reduce runoff and improve infiltration of water. Established practices include conservation cover, conservation crop rotation, cover crops, forage and biomass planting, pest management conservation system, mulching, nutrient management, prescribed grazing, and residue and tillage management.


Applications for NRCS programs are accepted at any time but there is typically a cutoff for a particular year of funding.


For more information about how to apply, or to discuss concerns on your farm, contact your local NRCS conservationist. Find the conservationist in your county.


No Time to Waste to Avoid Future Food Shortages


As many around the world were experiencing empty supermarket shelves, without pasta, rice and flour due to panic buying, concerns were raised about the possibility of running out of food.


Farmers in Australia, as in other nations, reassured consumers, saying that they produce enough food to feed three times the nation-continent’s population. If that statement is to remain true in ten to twenty years in a world severely affected by climate change, there must be continuous funding towards creating solutions to increase crop production.


“Australian plant scientists are punching above their weight by participating in global, interdisciplinary efforts to find ways to increase crop production under future climate change conditions. We essentially need to double the production of major cereals before 2050 to secure food availability for the rapidly growing world population,” says Australian National University (ANU) Professor Robert Furbank, from the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence for Translational Photosynthesis CoETP.


“It is similar to finding a virus vaccine to solve a pandemic. It doesn’t happen overnight,” Furbank continued. “We know that Australia’s agriculture is going to be one area of the world that is most affected by climate extremes, so we are preparing to have a toolbox of plant innovations ready to ensure global food security in a decade or so, but to do this we need research funding to continue.”


Several examples of the innovative solutions were published recently in a special issue on “Food Security Innovations in Agriculture” in the Journal of Experimental Botany, including five reviews and five research articles.


Co-editor of the special issue, ANU Professor John Evans, says that the publication highlights the now widely accepted view that improving photosynthesis – the process by which plants convert sunlight, water and CO2 into organic matter – is a new way to increase crop production that is being developed.


“We are working on improving photosynthesis on different fronts, as the articles included in this special issue show, from finding crop varieties that need less water, to tweaking parts of the process in order to capture more carbon dioxide and sunlight,” says Evans, CoETP chief investigator. “We know that there is a delay of at least a decade to get these solutions to the breeders and farmers, so we need to start developing new opportunities now before we run out of options.”


The special issue includes research solutions that range from traditional breeding approaches to ambitious genetic engineering projects using completely different ends of the technological spectrum; from robot tractors, to synthetic biology. All these efforts are focused on finding ways to make crops more resistant to drought and extreme climate conditions and being more efficient in the use of land and fertilizers.


“Our research is contributing to providing food security in a global context, and people often ask what that has to do with Australian farmers and my answer is everything,” Furbank said. “Aside from the fact that economy and agriculture are globally inter-connected, if Australian farmers have a more productive resilient and stable crop variety, they are able to plan for the future, which turns into a better agribusiness and at the same time, ensures security across the world.”


The research has been funded by the CoETP, which aims to improve the process of photosynthesis to increase the production of major food crops such as sorghum, wheat and rice.


Biofuel Sector Presses for Help

from Reimbursement Program in HEROES Act


Biofuel interests are expressing gratitude for legislation introduced on Capitol Hill aimed at providing the industry some financial support in the face of the corona virus-related shutdown that has brought much of the sector to a stop.


The Renewable Fuels Association thanked Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) this week for introducing bipartisan legislation – the Renewable Fuel Feedstock Reimbursement Act of 2020 – to provide much needed emergency relief to ethanol producers hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. The new bill would reimburse renewable fuels producers for feedstocks they purchased during the first quarter of 2020.


As of Tuesday, only 60 of the nation’s 204 ethanol plants were running at normal output rates, with the remaining 144 either completely or partially idled. More than 40 percent of the county’s ethanol production capacity remains offline.


“The COVID-19 pandemic has had devastating effects on the U.S. ethanol industry,” Renewable Fuel Association (RFA) President and CEO Geoff Cooper said Tuesday. He lauded Grassley and Klobuchar “for watching out for the 350,000 men and women whose jobs are supported by the ethanol industry,” noting that the legislation “would lend a vital helping hand and assist renewable fuel producers as they attempt to get back on their feet.”


He said the biofuel sector expects “the inclusion and expeditious passage of emergency relief measures for the ethanol industry in the next COVID-19 stimulus package.”


American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) CEO Brian Jennings said his industry needs direct assistance to help “survive this catastrophic downturn, and that the Grassley-Klobuchar legislation would do that.


“Momentum for direct assistance is building in Congress,” said the ACE CEO, but warned that “we are far from the finish line as the Senate may not take up the next stimulus package until sometime in June. Our immediate priority is to keep mobilizing grassroots support until direct assistance is enacted into law.”


Last week, the House passed the $3-trillion HEROES Act , a COVOID-19 financial relief package. The larger relief bill includes the Renewable Fuel Reimbursement Program, a provision that would provide direct assistance to renewable fuel producers impacted by the pandemic.


The program would provide a 45-cent-per-gallon payment for qualified biofuel produced by eligible producers from Jan. 1 through May 1 of this year. Furthermore, any producer taken out of service for a month or more over those five months would be eligible for the same credit, based on the volume produced during the corresponding month last year.


Based on U.S. Energy Information Administrator data, ethanol producers would receive about $2.2 billion for the 4.6 billion gallons produced since Jan. 1. Based on the renewable identification numbers (RINs) generated over the five-month period this year, biodiesel and renewable diesel producer would be compensated with $304 million for the 675million gallons produced.


The HEROES act passed the House on a mostly partisan basis this month and is facing some resistance in the GOP-controlled Senate. Nonetheless, biofuel industry leaders say the aid proposed is critical.


In a joint letter sent to House and Senate leadership, farm and biofuel groups said the reimbursement program is needed , given that “more than 130 biofuel plants have already partially or fully shut down as motor fuel demand plunged to 50-year lows. America’s biofuel plants purchase annually more than one-third of U.S. corn and U.S. soybean oil, and the loss of those markets has depressed farm income and will continue to push corn and soybean prices down dramatically.”


The RFA’s Cooper said the ethanol industry is experiencing the worst economic crisis in its 40-year history, with roughly half of the industry’s capacity offline today. Nearly 70 ethanol plants are completely idled and another 80 facilities are operating well below normal output rates.


“When an ethanol plant shuts down or reduces production, it destabilizes the entire rural economy,” Cooper said. “Jobs are lost, farm commodity demand and prices plummet, supplies of vital co-products like distillers grains and captured CO2 evaporate, and the nation’s drivers are denied lower-cost, cleaner-burning fuel options at the pump.”


Warming Midwest Conditions May Result in Corn,

Soybean Production Moving North


If warming continues unabated in the Midwest, by 2070, the best conditions for corn and soybean production will shift from Iowa and Illinois to Minnesota and the Dakotas, according to Penn State researchers.


The graphic shows the overlay of precipitation and temperature color coded to represent the best locations for corn in 2016 and in a climate scenario representative of 2064 if emissions are not curtailed. The darkest shade of purple is where temperature and precipitation align to provide the best weather for corn – for example, from northern Ohio all the way west through parts of Indiana, Michigan, Illinois and Iowa, among other states. In the projected 2060 panel, the best combination of precipitation and temperature become narrower and move north from current conditions. IMAGE: Kemanian Research Group/Penn State

Using machine learning – a form of artificial intelligence that enables a computer system to learn from data – the team considered more than three decades of county-level, crop-yield data from the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service for 18 states in the central region of the United States. That area produces the majority of these crops.


The researchers evaluated crop yields along with weather data. They considered fundamental climate variables to find yield predictors specific to each of the crop-growing phases. The study also analyzed the relationships between climate and corn, sorghum and soybean grain yield from 1980 to 2016.


“This kind of research was impossible before the era of big data we are living in now, and of course, it can be done only by using the powerful computing capacity that we can access at Penn State,” said researcher Armen Kemanian, associate professor of production systems and modeling in the College of Agricultural Sciences. “This study is important because in a climate that is changing relatively quickly, these techniques allow us to foresee what may happen.”


The findings, published in Environmental Research Letters, do not necessarily mean that the shift north and west in corn and soybean production will occur, said lead researcher Alexis Hoffman, who earned her doctoral degree in meteorology at Penn State in 2018.

But, based on the data, researchers conclude that such a shift is in progress, and that there is a strong probability it will continue.


“We are not suggesting that such a shift would be a catastrophe,” Kemanian said. “It doesn’t mean that Iowa will stop producing crops, but it might mean that Iowa farmers adapt to a warmer climate producing two crops in a year or a different mix of crops instead of the dominant corn-soybean rotation. The changes are likely to be gradual, and farmers and the supply chain should be able to adapt. But things will change.”


The three crops in the study have distinct responses to humidity and temperature, one of the most revealing results of the study, noted Hoffman. In general, corn needs more humidity, sorghum tolerates higher temperatures and soybean is somewhere in between.


In the study, corn exhibited a uniquely strong response of increased yield to increasing atmospheric humidity during its critical phase, from before to after flowering, as well as a strong sensitivity to exposure to extreme temperatures.


For each year during the study period, researchers estimated planting dates for every county, based on county-level temperatures to simulate farmer adaptation to cold or warm years, she said. They estimated that planting occurs once the 21-day moving average rises to a crop-specific threshold temperature. Planting temperatures for corn, sorghum and soybean were 50, 59, and 53.6 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively.


Corn exhibited a uniquely strong response of increased yield to increasing atmospheric humidity during its critical phase, from before to after flowering, as well as a strong sensitivity to exposure to extreme temperatures, Hoffman explained.


“Humidity is a factor for all crops studied, but what the data are telling us is that it is more of a factor for corn than it is for soybean or sorghum, and in a very narrow time window,” she said. “And by humidity, we mean that soils might be moist, but the data is showing that moisture in the air matters, regardless. That wasn’t known before.”


The ears above are from a stand of corn that experienced no water stress. The ears below are from a stand of corn that experienced water stress during flowering. The uneven and shorter ears with aborted kernels are typical of corn under water stress due to dry soil or very dry air – and show how the crop responds to climatic conditions.


However, soybean has a strong response to both maximum and minimum temperatures, she said. “All crops had threshold-like responses to high temperature, though we documented a comparatively greater tolerance to high temperature for sorghum at 90.5 F versus a range of 84.2 to 86 F for corn and soybean. We did not describe that response – machine learning revealed it for us.”


The research may have implications for companies selling crop insurance, Kemanian suggests.


“High-temperature swings are damaging. Learning when and by how much for both corn and soybean is critically important,” he said. “Crop insurance companies have an interest in this because they need to assess the risk of a given stress happening and how much they will pay as a result.”


Chris Forest, professor of climate dynamics in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, and Hoffman’s doctoral degree adviser, was involved in the research. This research builds on earlier work done by Hoffman and the team in sub-Saharan Africa.


The Network for Sustainable Climate Risk Management at Penn State, under a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture supported this research.


Balancing Impacts of Range-shifting Species:

Invasive Disruption vs. Biodiversity Benefits


For many years, the conservation community has embraced the idea that improving connectivity, that is, creating corridors so species can follow their preferred climate, will benefit biodiversity, says Toni Lyn Morelli at the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Climate Adaptation Science Center.


The Southern Pine Beetle is destroying forested ecosystems in New England and New York. Photo courtesy: University of Vermont/Elizabeth Jamison

But, she adds, “I also work with invasive species experts and conservationists who know that new species can be problematic. So, one community is saying yes, species arrivals are good; the other one says species arrivals are bad, and so far they aren’t talking much.”


In a new perspective paper with co-first author Piper Wallingford at the University of California, Irvine, Morelli and other colleagues address that disconnect. Writing in Nature Climate Change, they propose that reconciling these differing views will allow for better management of species that are shifting their ranges because of changing climates.


“This is us saying let’s be thoughtful about this, let’s have a dialogue,” Morelli says. “We’re going against two decades of established wisdom and we expect some pushback, but really any discussion will be helpful. We’re not saying that no species should move around. In fact, most species will have to move to avoid extinctions from climate change. But let’s look at what that means.”


To that end, Morelli, Wallingford and colleagues suggest using a tool like the Environmental Impact Classification of Alien Taxa (EICAT) – developed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature – to assess risk and develop management priorities. They write, “By adapting existing invasion risk assessment frameworks, we can identify characteristics shared with high-impact introductions and thus predict potential impacts.” Further, “Ecological impacts of range-shifting species could be predicted by leveraging knowledge of invasion ecology and existing risk assessments.”


The authors also point out that “with the exception of some problematic species, few studies have assessed the community and ecosystem impacts of species tracking their climate into new areas. The lack of studies on range shift impacts is surprising given that the introduction and spread of new species is often viewed by ecologists through the lens of invasion biology, where the primary concern is the potential for negative impacts on the recipient community.”


They recommend considering the ecological costs and benefits to recipient communities and ecosystem processes. Morelli adds, “If species that would have massive impacts are expected to move, we could know ahead and potentially take steps to stop or slow that.”


Study Shows Wetter Climate Is Likely to Intensify Global Warming


A study recently published in Nature indicates the increase in rainfall forecast by global climate models is likely to hasten the release of carbon dioxide from tropical soils, further intensifying global warming by adding to human emissions of this greenhouse gas into Earth’s atmosphere.


Sediment cores collected from the offshore fan deposited by the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers shows that a shift towards warmer and wetter climate over the last 18,000 years has increased the turnover rate of soils in the drainage basin of the two rivers. Dr. Valier Galy, WHO

Based on analysis of sediments cored from the submarine delta of the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers, the study was conducted by an international team led by Dr. Christopher Hein of William & Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science.


“We found that shifts toward a warmer and wetter climate in the drainage basin of the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers over the last 18,000 years enhanced rates of soil respiration and decreased stocks of soil carbon,” says Hein. “This has direct implications for Earth’s future, as climate change is likely to increase rainfall in tropical regions, further accelerating respiration of soil carbon, and adding even more CO2 to the atmosphere than that directly added by humans.”


Soil respiration refers to release of carbon dioxide by microbes as they decompose and metabolize leaf litter and other organic materials on and just below the ground surface. It’s equivalent to the process in which larger multicellular animals – from snails to humans – exhale CO2 as a byproduct of metabolizing their food. Roots also contribute to soil respiration at night, when photosynthesis shuts down and plants burn some of the carbohydrates they produced during daylight.


The team’s study is based on detailed analysis of three sediment cores collected from the ocean floor seaward of the mouth of the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers in Bangladesh. Here, the world’s largest delta and submarine fan were built by the prodigious volume of sediments eroded from the Himalayas. The two rivers carry more than a billion tons of sediment to the Bay of Bengal each year, more than five times that of the Mississippi River.


The cores record the environmental history of the Ganges-Brahmaputra drainage basin during the 18,000 years since the last Ice Age began to wane. By comparing radiocarbon dates of bulk sediment samples from these cores with samples from organic molecules known to be derived directly from land plants, the researchers were able to gauge changes though time in the age of the sediments’ parent soils.


Their results showed a strong correlation between runoff rates and soil age – wetter epochs were associated with younger, rapidly respiring soils; while drier, cooler epochs were linked to older soils capable of storing carbon for longer periods.


The wetter periods themselves correlate with the strength of the Indian summer monsoon, the primary source of precipitation across India, the Himalayas, and south-central Asia. The researchers confirmed changes in monsoon strength using several independent lines of paleoclimatic evidence, including analysis of oxygen-isotope ratios from Chinese cave deposits and the skeletons of open-ocean phytoplankton.


The magnitude of the correlation discovered by Hein and colleagues corresponds to a near doubling in the rate of soil respiration and carbon turnover in the 2,600 years following the end of the last Ice Age, as India’s summer monsoon strengthened.


“We found that a small increase in precipitation values corresponds to a much larger decrease in soil age,” says Hein.




Other News We Are Reading/Viewing…


Farmers Challenge Climate Change (Video – PBS’ This American Land)

May 2020, by Jill Woodward, Gary Strieker and Dave Timko


Climate-Smart Agricultural Practices Boost Food Security


A new study from the University of Illinois suggests that the use of climate-smart agriculture (CSA) practices will improve crop yields and food security in developing countries. The researchers found that farmers who adopted CSA practices in southern Malawi have increased corn yields by as much as 53 percent. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) contributed $86 million to the Wellness and Agriculture for Life’s Advancement (WALA) project in southern Malawi from 2009 to 2014. The initiative included health nutrition education, community development activities, and training in CSA practices to improve watershed restoration. While USAID and other International aid organizations have invested billions of dollars in promoting (CSA) practices, there is a lack of research available to evaluate how well these programs actually work. Study lead author Festus Amadu said the current findings document the efficacy – as well as the long-term impact-of CSA programs that provide training and resources to farmers. (Read more…)


Growth Energy Urges EPA COVID-19 Panel to Examine Air Toxics

(Growth Energy)


In a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Science Advisory Board (SAB), Growth Energy urged members of a new COVID-19 Review Panel to examine the impact of toxic gasoline additives on respiratory health, as well as the potential benefits offered by bio-based alternatives like ethanol.” As you explore the human costs of air pollution, including heightened risk from COVID-19 among vulnerable communities, we urge SAB members to examine the wide body of related research pointing to readily available solutions,” wrote Chris Bliley, Senior Vice President of Regulatory Affairs at Growth Energy. “Federal regulators have long acknowledged that biofuels reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 39 percent or more, but ethanol also serves as the single most affordable and abundant alterative to toxic fuel additives, including benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene. These petroleum-based aromatics play a dominant role in the formation of toxic emissions linked to cancer, as well as neurological, cardiovascular, and reproductive damage. They also drive significant increases in particulate emissions, which cause asthma and contribute to heart and lung disease.” (Read more…)


A Young Farmer Confronts Climate Change – and a Pandemic

(Inside Climate News)


Last year, his first as a professional farmer, Scott Chang-Fleeman spent May trudging through his new land ankle-deep in mud. Months after record rains had pummeled the five-and-a-half-acre plot in Bolinas, California, it was still a slippery, sodden mess. This year, the rain barely made an appearance. In February, usually the wettest month, not a drop fell in the San Francisco Bay Area, or much of California, for the first time since 1864. By early May, the organic Asian heritage vegetables Chang-Fleeman grows on Shao Shan Farm were poking through the earth in full, proud buds. “This time last year I wasn’t even thinking about planting,” said Chang-Fleeman. What a year to start a farm. From floods to wildfires, power outages and evacuations to the awful here and now-the ongoing calamity of a deadly pandemic that has smacked down the world, upending everything. (Read more…)


US Ag Pickers Could See Unsafely Hot Workdays Double By 2050

(University of Washington)


The global pandemic has put a focus on essential workers, those we rely on for basic services. Workers who pick crops, from strawberries to apples to nuts, already face harsh conditions harvesting in fields during summer harvest months – conditions that will worsen significantly over the coming decades without significant remediation. A new study from the University of Washington and Stanford University, published online in Environmental Research Letters, looks at temperature increases in counties across the United States where crops are grown. It also looks at different strategies the industry could adopt to protect workers’ health. “Studies of climate change and agriculture have traditionally focused on crop yield projections, especially staple crops like corn and wheat,” said lead author Michelle Tigchelaar, a postdoctoral researcher at Stanford University who did the work while at the UW. “This study asks what global warming means for the health of agricultural workers picking fruits and vegetables.” The average picker now experiences 21 days each year when the daily heat index – a mix of air temperature and humidity – would exceed workplace safety standards. Using projections from climate models, the study shows the number of unsafe days in crop-growing counties will jump to 39 days per season under 2 degrees Celsius warming, which is expected by 2050, and to 62 unsafe days under 4 degrees Celsius warming, which is expected by 2100. (Read more…)


With Planned Closing of ND Coal Plant, Energy Transition Comes Home to Rural America

(Inside Climate News)


Great River Energy has announced it will close the largest coal-fired power plant in North Dakota and replace it with renewable sources, an almost complete overhaul of the way the utility provides electricity to the smaller rural electric cooperatives it serves. The plan made me sit up and take notice because rural electric cooperatives have been slow to move away from coal and embrace renewables. These cooperatives serve only about 12 percent of the nation’s customers, but they operate a disproportionately large share of coal-fired power plants across the country. Great River says it is taking these actions because the coal plant has become too expensive and customers increasingly want renewable energy. Headquartered in the suburbs of Minneapolis, the nonprofit produces electricity and delivers it to 28 rural electric cooperative utilities that have a total of about 700,000 customers. (Read more…)


EU Plan for 3 Billion Trees In 10 Years to Tackle Biodiversity Crisis

(The Guardian)


The European commission will launch a sweeping effort to tackle the global biodiversity crisis on Wednesday, including a call for 3bn trees to be planted in the EU by 2030 and a plan to better protect the continent’s last primeval forests. The draft policy document, published online by an environmental NGO, admits that to date in the EU, “protection has been incomplete, restoration has been small-scale, and the implementation and enforcement of legislation has been insufficient.” Scientists and environmental groups, commenting on the leaked draft of the strategy, say that while the new goals are welcome and impressive, there is a still distinct lack of tools with which to implement them. The new strategy calls for nearly one-third of EU land and sea to become protected zones. Currently, 26 percent of land and 11 percent of seas are classed as protected areas, but the European commission acknowledges this has not been enough to tackle the degradation of the natural world and threat of extinction to some birds and animals. Environmentalists say even these previous targets for protection have not been met in practice. (Read more…)



Partner News and CSA Events


New Role Is Taken to Push Agricultural Solutions to Global Mega-Challenges


Solutions from the Land formally announced May 11 an expansion of its efforts to combat the interconnected threats the world now faces, ranging from food and nutrition security, sustainable livelihoods and climate change to the COVID-19 pandemic.


The special initiative,Enabling Farmers to Meet Global Sustainable Development Goals, seeks to enable farmers to be valued and rewarded for delivering solutions to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs), which collectively, call for action by all countries – developed and developing – to work together and create strategies to end hunger, improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth, all while tackling climate change and protecting ecosystems.


The initiative will be led by a panel consisting of the SfL Board of Directors, with SfL Co-Chairs A.G. Kawamura, a California urban grower and produce shipper, and Thomas Lovejoy, a professor and former Biodiversity Chair at George Mason University Lovejoy, along with SfL board member, Dr. Howard-Yana Shapiro, a senior fellow in the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences at the University of California, Davis, leading the panel. Aiding that panel with input will be a broad team of highly respected farmer envoys and distinguished SDG senior advisors.


These nationally and globally renowned farmers, scientists, climate and clean energy authorities, conservation and environmental specialists, food systems and supply chain partners, economists, government agency officials, and other experts will be charged with outlining a vision for a 21st century “Agricultural Renaissance.” They will also offer strategic pathways that enable all forms and scales of agriculture to innovate, sustain productivity, enhance resilience to climate change and other shocks, and move the world towards achieving global sustainable development goals.


In the coming months, SfL will promote this vision and these pathways through proactive engagement in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the UN Secretary General’s World Food Systems Summit. Through each of these forums, SfL’s farmer envoys will collaborate with member states and non-state actors to enable and scale up agricultural solutions to global challenges.


GACSA Reactivating Knowledge Action Group


The Global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture, of which the North America Climate Smart Agriculture Alliance is an active member, is reactivating the GACSA Knowledge Action Group (KAG). The aim of the KAG is to promote knowledge, research, and development needed for the advancement of technologies, practices, and policy approaches to sustainably increase productivity, enhance resilience (adaptation), reduce/remove GHGs (mitigation) where possible, and enhance achievement of national food security and development goals. This will be another platform we will be working through to advance our COVID-19 recovery recommendations.


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

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