- The Senate just passed an $867 billion farm bill. Here's what's in it.
The Senate on Dec. 11 voted overwhelmingly to approve an $867 billion farm bill, as Congress appeared poised to pass legislation that will help an agriculture industry battered by President Donald Trump's trade war. In an 87-to-13 vote, the Senate approved legislation that allocates billions of dollars in subsidies to American farmers, legalizes hemp, bolsters farmers markets and rejects stricter limits on food stamps pushed by House Republicans. The farm bill proposed by House Republicans had also proposed merging the Conservation Stewardship Program, which pays farmers to strengthen conservation efforts on their farms, into another branch of the Agriculture Department. The program will survive under the final version of the bill.
- Can we grow more food on less land? We'll have to, a new study finds
If the world hopes to make meaningful progress on climate change, it won't be enough for cars and factories to get cleaner. Our cows and wheat fields will have to become radically more efficient, too. That's the basic conclusion of a sweeping new study issued Dec. 5 by the World Resources Institute, an environmental group. The report warns that the world's agricultural system will need drastic changes in the next few decades in order to feed billions more people without triggering a climate catastrophe.
- Simple steps to climate-proof farms have big potential upside for tropical farmers
Implementation of climate-smart agriculture (CSA) practices can increase yields, benefit the environment and increase farmer income, according to a new cost-benefit analysis by the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) published in PLOS ONE. The study examines 10 major climate-related issues facing farmers in Africa, Asia and Latin America and proposes site-specific CSA remedies.
- EPA to propose easing Obama water rule
The Trump administration is poised to ease an Obama-era water rule, shrinking the number of waterways that are protected from industry pollutants. The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to propose changing the definition of "Waters of the U.S." to erase federal protections on some waters. The change would cover wetlands not connected to larger waterways or riverbeds that only flow after rainfall, according to an EPA outline.
- Increasing riparian buffers to improve Pennsylvania's water quality
The Chesapeake Bay is being polluted, and Pennsylvania is a big reason why, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. To identify ways to reduce Pennsylvania's impact on the bay, Penn State researchers led a workshop to identify ways to accelerate the planting of riparian buffers, a known solution to this issue.
- EPA, USDA offer to meet with states to discuss agricultural runoff
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Agriculture sent a joint letter to states and tribal groups encouraging "reinvigoration” of efforts to reduce agricultural runoff and acknowledging “nutrient pollution continues to be widespread, particularly in the Mississippi River Basin." The letter, sent Dec. 4, offers state environmental and agricultural agencies one-on-one meetings with the EPA and USDA to identify ways to reduce nitrates and phosphorus flowing into waterways.
- Highly erodible land conservation and wetland conservation compliance provisions: US Department of Agriculture rule/revisions
On Dec. 7, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) published in the Federal Register an interim rule for the Highly Erodible Land Conservation and Wetland Conservation Compliance regulations of the Food Security Act of 1985. The interim rule clarifies the department's processes for delineating, determining and certifying wetlands on subject lands in order to determine ineligibility for certain USDA program benefits.
- Smart drone used to study effects of variable rate irrigation in cotton
Fields of cotton, wheat, sorghum and other crops are a common sight in the Texas High Plains, but what you might not expect is to see drones whipping through the air above these fields. However, if you drive out to a field of cotton about 30 miles north of Texas Tech University, that is exactly what you might see. Wenxuan Guo, an assistant professor in crop ecophysiology and precision agriculture in Texas Tech University's Department of Plant and Soil Science, is using the drones to study the effects of variable rate irrigation in cotton yields.
- Fire's effects on soil moisture, runoff
The 2011 Las Conchas mega-fire in New Mexico burned more than 150,000 acres and threatened the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Now, using data from the fire, researchers have created an experimental model that will help us better understand the interactions of fire and water in the soil.
- How investing in regenerative agriculture can help stem climate change profitably
Investing in regenerative agriculture has the potential to address not only the food supply but also climate change, peace and conflict resolution and the water supply to boot. This impact investing strategy could be the biggest lever for creating positive change available to investors today. It also appears to generate healthy financial returns.