The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Nation's First Regenerative Farm Certification Bill Introduced in Vermont
BY Kiss the Ground and Regeneration International
Kiss the Ground and Regeneration International announced today support for Vermont's Senate Bill 159, a bill that would introduce a state-level certification program under which farmers could have their land and farming methods certified by the state as regenerative.
The bill, introduced by Sen. Brian Campion (of Bennington, Bennington County), was first written by Jesse McDougall, a farmer in Shaftsbury, Vermont. McDougall employs regenerative farming practices, including planned rotational grazing, which eliminate the need for chemical fertilizers and tilling and regenerate the soil's capacity to retain water and sequester carbon.
McDougall had considered pursuing a formal organic certification for his meat products and farm, Studio Hill, but decided he wanted to do more than tell customers what's not in the food—the absence of chemicals and synthetic fertilizers. McDougall sought instead a certification that would tell consumers what is in their food, how the food was raised and how the land was improved by its production.
"The certification is intended to help legitimize this style of farming as an economically viable option for farmers," McDougall said. "It is our hope that this certification program not only creates a high-value market for regeneratively-grown food, but also rewards regenerative farmers for their work with better marketing opportunities and bigger margins."
"As a small, farmer-friendly state and agriculture pioneer, Vermont is perfectly positioned to lead the country with this type of legislation," Finian Makepeace, co-founder and policy director at Kiss The Ground, said. "We expect and hope to see many more states adopt similar legislation as part of the regenerative movement that is spreading across the United States and globally."
Also known as “carbon farming," regenerative agriculture practices put the emphasis on soil health using nature's systems to regenerate the land. According to Andre Leu, president of IFOAM—Organics International, "Rebuilding soil by sequestering carbon reduces CO2 from the atmosphere and creates land that is more drought resistant and grows healthier, food, plants and animals."
“The trends are clear. Consumers increasingly want to know more about their food. What's in it, how it was grown, whether it was locally produced or shipped a long distance and how humanely animals were treated," Ronnie Cummins, member of the Regeneration International Steering Committee and international director of the Organic Consumers Association, said. “And as public concern around global warming escalates, consumers are looking for food produced using practices that contribute to a climate solution, rather than to the problem."
This is the first piece of legislation specific to regenerative agriculture in the U.S. and one that serves both farmers and consumers. The certification is intended to result in a State of Vermont seal, visible to consumers at the grocery store and available to certified farmers to share, educate and promote their work.
The certification includes three standard, binary tests: if topsoil has increased; if carbon has been sequestered; or if soil organic matter has increased. A farm would need to meet only one of these criteria, over a three-year period and with each successive year, to be certified as regenerative.
Healthy soil via regenerative agriculture is gaining traction worldwide with 4/1000 Initiative: Soils for Food Security and Climate, a visionary initiative introduced at last December's COP21 and signed by 25 countries, to increase the organic carbon level of each country's agricultural soils by 0.4 percent each year.
“Regenerative farming can rebuild the soil, sequester carbon, produce nutrient-dense food and eliminate the need for toxic chemicals," McDougall said. “If we want the next generation of farmers to do this work, it is our responsibility to provide them with the tools that make it possible. We wrote this bill to begin building those tools."
The Vermont Senate Committee on agriculture will review SB 159 in the coming weeks and determine whether it will be included in the next legislative session and continue on to the Senate floor.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Extreme weather events supercharged by climate change in 2012 led to nearly 1,000 more deaths, more than 20,000 additional hospitalizations, and cost the U.S. healthcare system $10 billion, a new report finds.
A Bay Area conservation group struck a deal to buy and to protect the world's largest remaining privately owned sequoia forest for $15.6 million. Now it needs to raise the money, according to CNN.
The Rugby World Cup starts Friday in Japan where Pacific Island teams from Samoa, Fiji and Tonga will face off against teams from industrialized nations. However, a new report from a UK-based NGO says that when the teams gather for the opening ceremony on Friday night and listen to the theme song "World In Union," the hypocrisy of climate injustice will take center stage.
By Wudan Yan
In June, New York Times journalist Andy Newman wrote an article titled, "If seeing the world helps ruin it, should we stay home?" In it, he raised the question of whether or not travel by plane, boat, or car—all of which contribute to climate change, rising sea levels, and melting glaciers—might pose a moral challenge to the responsibility that each of us has to not exacerbate the already catastrophic consequences of climate change. The premise of Newman's piece rests on his assertion that traveling "somewhere far away… is the biggest single action a private citizen can take to worsen climate change."
On Monday, Sept. 23, the Climate Group will kick off its 11th annual Climate Week NYC, a chance for governments, non-profits, businesses, communities and individuals to share possible solutions to the climate crisis while world leaders gather in the city for the UN Climate Action Summit.
By Pam Radtke Russell in New Orleans
Local TV weather forecasters have become foot soldiers in the war against climate misinformation. Over the past decade, a growing number of meteorologists and weathercasters have begun addressing the climate crisis either as part of their weather forecasts, or in separate, independent news reports to help their viewers understand what is happening and why it is important.