By Jennifer Ann Thomas
For the first time, researchers have developed a model capable of anticipating drought periods in the Amazon up to 18 months in advance. The study was conducted by scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), in Germany, as part of the Tipping Points in the Earth System (TiPES) project, led by physicist Catrin Ciemer and published in the journal Environmental Research Letters.
Average monthly sea surface temperature (in degrees Celsius, red scale) and average continental rainfall in South America (in millimeters/month, blue scale) from 1981 to 2016. Sea surface temperatures and precipitation are generally higher around the equator. On the left, the area where El Niño – Southern Oscillation (ENSO) occurs; dotted lines indicate the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) in January and July, responsible for transporting heat and humidity from the oceans around the tropics.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
'Regenerative Agriculture and the Soil Carbon Solution': New Paper Outlines Vision for Climate Action
By Andrea Germanos
A white paper out Friday declares that "there is hope right beneath our feet" to address the climate crisis as it touts regenerative agriculture as a "win-win-win" solution to tackling runaway carbon emissions.
Graph from Rodale Institute's new white paper "Regenerative Agriculture and the Soil Carbon Solution."<p>The claim made in the new paper is bold: "Data from farming and grazing studies show the power of exemplary regenerative systems that, if achieved globally, would drawdown more than 100% of current annual CO2 emissions.</p><p>"Regenerative agriculture, as the researchers describe, represents "a system of farming principles that rehabilitates the entire ecosystem and enhances natural resources, rather than depleting them."</p><p>In contrast to industrial practices dependent upon monocultures, extensive tillage, pesticides, and synthetic fertilizers, a regenerative approach uses, at minimum, seven practices which aim to boost biodiversity both above and underground and make possible carbon sequestration in soil.</p><ul><li>Diversifying crop rotations</li><li>Planting cover crops, green manures, and perennials</li><li>Retaining crop residues</li><li>Using natural sources of fertilizer, such as compost</li><li>Employing highly managed grazing and/or integrating crops and livestock</li><li>Reducing tillage frequency and depth</li><li>Eliminating synthetic chemicals</li></ul>
By Leanna First-Arai
In a push to capture the rural vote, 62 percent of which went to Trump in 2016, both the Trump and Biden campaigns are ramping up efforts to appeal to farmers and ranchers.
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By Sean Taylor
MilkRun, a Portland, Oregon-based company, is supporting small, local farmers by enabling them to sell produce safely and directly to consumers' homes.
It's harvest time, and by eating what's in season locally, people can reduce the carbon pollution caused by trucking food long distances.
By Ray Levy-Uyeda
A farmer for most of his life, Sam Stewart bought farmland in Montana about 35 years ago. Since then, he's planted and harvested his wheat and other crops around 16 open oil wells on this land, which he estimates were dug in the 1920s.
Abandoned Wells<p>The first oil wells in Montana were drilled at the turn of the century, and the industry <a href="https://scholarworks.umt.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=6881&context=etd" target="_blank">experienced its first boom</a> in the 1920s. <a href="https://scholarworks.umt.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=6881&context=etd" target="_blank">Energy demands of World War II</a> spurred a second boom; between 1942 and 1945, <a href="https://scholarworks.umt.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=6881&context=etd" target="_blank">oil production in the Elk Basin region</a> increased from 16,000 to 940,000 barrels annually. When those wells no longer produced oil, companies could just leave. The Oil and Gas Conservation Commission of Montana, tasked with identifying and plugging abandoned wells, wasn't created until 1954, and by that time an untold number of wells had already been drilled, produced, and abandoned. </p><p>As more companies moved into Montana, oil and gas production grew into an increasingly important part of local and state economies; by 2015, it<a href="https://montanapetroleum.org/about-us/economic-impact/" target="_blank"> made up 5.6%</a> of the state's general fund. But the industry that once was a cornerstone of Montana's economy is now in a nosedive: a yearslong decline in global oil production and demand compounded by the <a href="https://www.eenews.net/stories/1063049965" target="_blank">pandemic-induced economic slowdown</a> has produced some of the worst oil <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-04-07/oil-companies-warn-kansas-city-fed-of-widespread-insolvencies" target="_blank">production conditions in recent years</a>.</p><p>In 2016, the most recent year for which he was able to provide data, 4,713 oil and gas wells were in operation in the state and 204 had been abandoned, according to Allen Olson, executive director of the Montana Petroleum Association, a trade organization that works on behalf of the businesses. But that's a <a href="https://montanapetroleum.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/MPA-Booklet.pdf" target="_blank">fraction of the tens of thousands</a> that have been drilled in Montana in the past century. </p><p>Data on abandoned wells remain incomplete, which further complicates cleanup efforts. Plus, state legislatures have drastically different policies on how to address abandoned wells. One thing remains certain: The issue is enormous and far-reaching. A 2018 report from the <a href="https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2017-06/documents/6.22.17_ghgi_stakeholder_workshop_2018_ghgi_revision_-_abandoned_wells.pdf" target="_blank">Environmental Protection Agency </a>estimated that the country has 3.2 million abandoned oil and gas wells. </p><p>Abandoned wells in Montana—left by companies that filed for bankruptcy, for example, default to the state. Theoretically, a state-run fund pays for well adoption and closure, but even under state control, the wells often lay unplugged, because plugging abandoned wells and restoring the surface land is expensive. Olson believes that the "state regulatory agency here is doing an excellent job staying on top" of plugging wells. But the <a href="http://www.mtrules.org/gateway/ruleno.asp?RN=36%2E22%2E1308" target="_blank">state's plugging plan</a> doesn't explicitly address the issue of abandoned oil wells, and also neglects to lay out a time-bound plan for plugging wells. </p><p>It's not just that states like Montana don't have a legislative apparatus to hold corporations accountable, says Mitch Jones, the climate and energy program director at Food & Water Watch, a nonprofit that pushes for corporate and government accountability. He says that the lack of governmental action is by design. When wells are abandoned, Jones says, "the costs of doing business are passed on to the public instead of being paid by the shareholders in the industry."</p>
A Boost or a Burden?<p>Kirk Panasuk, a lifelong Montanan, farmer, and member of the Northern Plains Resource Council's Oil and Gas Task Force, remembers growing up with oil wells on his grandparents' farm. Panasuk says "once you've leased the land you've lost control." An oil company would lease the mineral rights—not the surface land but the profitable oil below. That lease might expire, the company would leave, and another company would come in to start the process again.</p><p>Agriculture is a difficult industry, and Panasuk says what seems like "free money" at the outset can lead to problems down the road. Water systems are connected, which means that an oil leak in Montana has the potential to leach chemicals into bodies of water such as the Yellowstone River that flows into other states through the Missouri River, a <a href="https://www.nwd-mr.usace.army.mil/" target="_blank">river crucial</a> to municipal, industrial, and agricultural function. </p><p>Panasuk now volunteers with the NPRC to lobby state legislators on practices that would hold resource extraction companies accountable by mandating water testing and treatment. He admits that he's made money off of these companies by leasing mineral rights to oil producers who then sell the oil at market. Despite the environmental fallout, Panasuk believes that oil companies' leasing of land actually "saved a lot of small farms from failure [and] bankruptcy."</p><p>Olson of the Montana Petroleum Association says that in 2019, when oil was $60 per barrel, a company might produce 100 barrels per day and pay a royalty fee of 12.5%, which could garner a farmer $750 per day for leasing their land. Today, with prices and production down, the payoffs look different. In April, oil prices went into the <a href="https://billingsgazette.com/news/local/oil-price-collapse-hits-billings-area-businesses-hard/article_df10e954-3e0c-5b6c-9641-135208d4ad2c.html" target="_blank">negative</a>, and in August, they're <a href="https://www.oilmonster.com/crude-oil-prices/central-montana-price/159/228" target="_blank">hovering around $30 per barrel</a>. </p><p>While an oil lease might benefit a farmer initially, Jones says that oil companies are well-versed in this practice. "The oil and gas industry takes advantage of the inequities in our agriculture system to prey upon farmers and get them to sign leases for drilling on their land," Jones says, which can "undermine agricultural activity that's taking place."</p><p>In other farming communities around the country, where oil and gas companies produce natural gas through <a href="https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/poor-communities-bear-greatest-burden-from-fracking/" target="_blank">hydraulic fracturing</a>, farmers and members of the local community often bear the brunt of water pollution. Not to mention that farming is dependent on a predictable and healthy climate, which is being threatened by resource extraction. </p>
A Foundation Is Formed<p>In early 2019, Curtis Shuck was in the northern town of Shelby, about 15 miles south of the Canadian border, meeting with farmers about agricultural transportation. More than three decades in the oil and gas industry hadn't prepared him for what he saw—abandoned, methane-leaking, unplugged oil wells.</p><p>He walked the area with the farmers and learned how they worked around the wells, most of which had stopped producing oil decades earlier. What was left were remnant pipes strewn across the fields and a sulfuric stench like rotten eggs. </p><p>On his journey home to Bozeman, Shuck couldn't stop thinking about what he had seen, knowing that each open well was responsible for tons of emissions. On that drive, the idea for the Well Done Foundation was born. </p><p>Just over a year after that first trip north, the Well Done Foundation plugged its first three wells and expanded beyond the Montana pilot program into dozens of other states. Shuck says that he hopes the foundation can also gather the concrete data that the government lacks, such as the number of orphaned wells and their emissions, which makes it difficult to develop solutions.</p><p>Shuck says he can acknowledge the state's shortcomings in their cleanup efforts while building relationships with those who make regulatory decisions. The "state fund is grossly underfunded," Shuck says, but "why should the public bear the burden of this orphaned well issue?"</p><p>The Well Done team identifies abandoned oil wells around the state, and then posts a financial bond to the state's Oil & Gas Conservation Commission, a way for the state to track and partially fund the plugging. In doing so, the state is holding up its end of the bargain, but without this push from Well Done, it might take the state years to accomplish what the Foundation does in months. </p><p>The foundation researches individual well emissions for about nine months as well as studying the construction of a well, how deep it goes, and the materials that are required to plug it. Shuck says it's important that the foundation does its due diligence to identify wells that have collapsed in on themselves or have an obstruction that needs to be addressed before plugging. </p><p>Then the foundation works with county commissions, private entities, and those who own the surface land to develop and execute a "plugging plan," which so far has been funded by private or anonymous donors. The actual plugging of the well takes only a few days, and then the Foundation works to restore the surface land to its "pre-drilling condition," which allows a farmer to seed the land and grow crops. </p>
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By Katell Ané
The European Commission launched a new Farm to Fork strategy in an effort to reduce the social and environmental impact of the European food system. It is the newest strategy under the European Green Deal, setting sustainability targets for farmers, consumers, and policymakers.
By Danielle Nierenberg and Maya Osman-Krinsky
In the United States, over 2,000 acres of agricultural land are sold every day for housing or commercial development, according to the American Farmland Trust. This has especially affected Black farmers who, since 1920, have seen nearly a 90 percent decline in land ownership, according to the U.S. Census.
1. Alaska Farmland Trust (United States)<p>One in five Alaskans is considered food insecure, and over 95 percent of the food consumed by Alaskans is imported from the contiguous U.S., according to the Alaska Farmland Trust Corporation (AFTC). AFTC was created in 2005 to support the existing farms in Alaska's Mat-Su valley and safeguard farmland against development. AFTC aims to protect 5,700 acres of farmland in the next 50 years to ensure productive farms, ranches, and forests for generations of Alaskan farmers to come.</p>
2. American Farmland Trust (United States)<p>Since its inception in 1980, the American Farmland Trust (AFT) has worked to protect farmland from development and promote sound farming practices. AFT leads the <a href="http://www.fao.org/resources/infographics/infographics-details/en/c/216754/" target="_blank">conservation agriculture movement</a> by combining on-the-ground projects with research and advocacy. AFT also created the <a href="https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2018/11/14/1651476/0/en/No-Farms-No-Food-Farmland-Takes-Action-With-American-Farmland-Trust-Partnership.html" target="_blank">No Farms No Food</a> message, which aims to connect the food we eat to the farms that grow it. The organization has protected millions of acres of farmland from commercial development while helping tens of thousands of farmers adopt better farming practices.</p>
3. Anera (Middle East)<p>Since 1968, Anera has worked to provide emergency relief and sustainable long-term aid to refugee communities in Palestine, Lebanon, and Jordan. In 1985, they began a decade-long <a href="https://www.anera.org/what-we-do/agriculture/" target="_blank">agricultural development project</a> to help Palestinian farmers reclaim hundreds of acres of land. This project continues to grow in the West Bank, giving loans to thousands of farmers and encouraging sustainable projects to combat food insecurity and water scarcity.</p>
4. Bangladesh Krishok Federation (Bangladesh)<p>The Bangladesh Krishok Federation (BKF) was established in 1990 as a grassroots peasants' rights organization. Since before its founding, BKF has organized landless people to fight for policy reform by demonstrating, organizing, providing legal aid, and working with the government to negotiate fair land deals. BKF and its women-led counterpart, Bangladesh Kishani Sabha (BKS), work in tandem to secure rights for peasants, farmers, and the 112 million landless people in Bangladesh.</p>
5. Coalition of Cambodian Farmer Community (Cambodia)<p>The Coalition of Cambodian Farmer Community (CCFC) addresses land rights issues for Cambodian farmers through community organizing and policy negotiation. CCFC's <a href="https://www.ccfccambodia.org/no-land-no-market-no-life" target="_blank">No Land No Life Campaign</a> tackles forced evictions and unjust legislation by mobilizing small farmers to speak out against Cambodian authorities on land tenure and human rights issues. CCFC has been a platform for <a href="https://www.ccfccambodia.org/archives/category/press-announcement" target="_blank">over 6,800 farming families</a> condemning forced evictions and exploitative commercial farming.</p>
6. Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund (United States)<p>The Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund is a non-profit cooperative association of black farmers and landowners. The Federation builds support for public policies and credit unions that help Black and family farmers expand and protect their landholdings in the South. They also hold annual events and workshops centered around education, forestry, and racial equity in food systems.</p>
7. Food First Information and Action Network International (International)<p>Food First Information and Action Network International (FIAN) was the first international human rights organization with a specific focus on adequate food and nutrition. FIAN fights for land and natural resources by holding corporations and governments accountable for violations of people's right to food. FIAN aims to secure people's access to land rights while advocating for gender, economic, agricultural, and legal equality worldwide. In 2019, FIAN's right-to-food activism reached 60 countries.</p>
8. Friends of the Earth International (International)<p>Friends of the Earth International (FoEI) is a grassroots network mobilizing for climate justice, human rights, food sovereignty, and gender justice. Across its 73 member groups, FoEI supports campaigns defending peasant farming against large-scale industrial land grabs. Most recently, <a href="https://ja4change.org/2019/12/13/justica-ambiental-ja-celebrates-human-rights-day-with-the-launch-of-2-case-studies/" target="_blank">Justiça Ambiental</a>, a FoEI member group, worked with a <a href="https://www.foei.org/news/blogs/agroecology/mozambique-land-rights-acroecology" target="_blank">Mozambican village</a> fighting to reclaim their stolen land.</p>
9. GRAIN (International)<p>GRAIN is an international non-profit organization that advocates for community-controlled and biodiverse food systems. Using research and public awareness outreach campaigns, GRAIN supports small farmers in their efforts to combat corporate land deals and land grabs. In 2019, GRAIN supported struggles for land in Sierra Leone, Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia, Cameroon, Cambodia, and Brazil.</p>
10. Grupo Semillas (Colombia)<p>Corporación Grupo Semillas is an environmentalist NGO that backs Afro-Colombian, indigenous, and peasant organizations in Colombia. Grupo Semillas supports land tenure and reclamation efforts in their <a href="https://www.semillas.org.co/es/resultado-archivo-categoria?id=53431fcd6075e1796e6f86f9ec1b9028" target="_blank">Tierras y territorios</a> division, which focuses on pushing back against agribusiness and land monopolies. Through partnering with other regional organizations, Grupo Semillas conducts and disseminates research about land rights, food sovereignty, and biodiversity to Colombia's marginalized populations.</p>
11. Hawai’ian Islands Land Trust (Hawai’i)<p>The Hawai'ian Islands Land Trust (HILT) takes a holistic approach to land conservation through <a href="https://www.conservationeasement.us/what-is-a-conservation-easement/" target="_blank">conservation easements</a>. HILT comprises four Hawai'ian land trusts, all of which aim to conserve Hawai'ian farms, ranches, watersheds, forests, and historical landscapes. HILT has protected over 18,000 acres of Hawai'ian land through land acquisition and protection initiatives and policy advocacy.</p>
12. Institute for Poverty Land, and Agrarian Studies (South Africa)<p>The Institute for Poverty, Land, and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS) is an organization dedicated to researching land grabbing in Africa. PLAAS uses its research and policy engagement to highlight how food systems can both perpetuate and alleviate poverty. Since its founding in 1995, PLAAS has published reports calling for a restructuring of agro-food systems to aid marginalized communities harmed by parasitic land deals.</p>
13. La Via Campesina (International)<p>La Via Campesina (LVC) is an international peasant's rights movement fighting for food sovereignty, climate justice, and territory rights. LVC leads a global campaign for agrarian reform by defending food sovereignty and asserting peasant farmers' rights to seeds. LVC has covered land access efforts in Indonesia, Brazil, Colombia, Andalusia, and Ethiopia, carrying out nearly 50 activities across different continents in 2019 alone.</p>
14. Namati (International)<p>Namati is a legal empowerment organization that seeks to tackle problems of land, environmental, health, and citizenship justice. The organization employs paralegals who work directly with communities; with nearly 20,000 community partners, Namati reaches over 350,000 people directly. Namati's initiatives in Kenya, Myanmar, and Sierra Leone support smallholder farmers struggling to navigate administrative processes and land grab disputes.</p>
15. National Black Farmers Association (United States)<p>The National Black Farmers Association (NBFA) was founded in 1995 to represent Black farmers in the U.S. They focus efforts on civil rights, land retention, access to loans, education and agricultural training, and economic development. NBFA's work has impacted tens of thousands of farmers since its inception, fighting for food sovereignty, land rights, and an end to hunger.</p>
16. National Black Food & Justice Alliance (United States)<p>The National Black Food & Justice Alliance (NBFJA) is a coalition of Black-led organizations that is working toward Black land and food sovereignty and self-determining food economies. Building off a <a href="https://www.blackfoodjustice.org/rationale-strategy" target="_blank">long legacy</a> of Black food security efforts in the U.S., NBFJA is combating anti-Blackness and inequities in the food system by building visibility of Black-led efforts, creating an organized framework around food and land issues impacting Black people, engaging in direct action, and building togetherness space.</p>
17. Partners for the Land and Agricultural Needs of Traditional Peoples (Brazil and Sub-Saharan Africa)<p>Partners for the Land and Agricultural Needs of Traditional Peoples (PLANT) is a platform that confronts the marginalization of Indigenous peoples in Brazilian Amazonia and Sub-Saharan Africa. PLANT works with their local partners on hands-on projects, public policy, and research and analysis. PLANT supports food sovereignty, condemns land grabs, and seeks to center indigenous voices in global decision-making about ecological justice.</p>
18. Peconic Land Trust (United States)<p>The Peconic Land Trust (PLT) partners with landowners, communities, and organizations in Suffolk County to conserve Long Island's working farms. PLT is working on several local projects on Long Island, including land conservation legislation and community conservation campaigns. Since 1983, they have protected over 13,000 acres of land and secured millions of dollars for land protection.</p>
19. South of the Sound Community Farm Land Trust (United States)<p>South of the Sound Community Farm Land Trust (SSCFLT) is a Washington-based nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving affordable farmland. SSCFLT brings together local farmers, agriculture preservation advocates, affordable housing advocates, and active citizens to form a <a href="https://community-wealth.org/strategies/panel/clts/index.html" target="_blank">community land trust</a>. SSCFLT works to reduce landowning costs for farmers and demonstrate sustainable farming practices in community farm environments.</p>
20. Sustainable Iowa Land Trust (United States)<p>Iowa is <a href="https://silt.org/why-launch-a-land-trust/" target="_blank">losing 25 acres of farmland</a> each day to development and imports more than 90 percent of their food from out of state, but the Sustainable Iowa Land Trust (SILT) is fighting to change this. They believe that through the state's farming landscape, economy, and food supply, they can build more resilient communities in Iowa. SILT is working to create affordable land access for Iowa's farmers and protect land for sustainable food farming to rebuild the the state's rural economy and mitigate climate change.</p><a target="_blank" href="https://twitter.com/intent/tweet?text=Over+2%2C000+acres+of+farmland+are+sold+daily+for+commercial+purposes%2C+according+to+%40Farmland.+These+20+organizations+working+to+%23ProtectFarmland+around+the+world.&url=https%3A%2F%2Ffoodtank.com%2Fnews%2F2020%2F07%2Ffarms-for-the-future-19-organizations-protecting-farmland%2F&via=foodtank"><span></span></a>
By Isabelle Gerretsen
"When I told people I was going to grow tomatoes in the desert, they thought I was crazy," Sky Kurtz, founder of Pure Harvest Smart Farms, told DW.
Water Scarcity and Fossil-Fuel Reliance<p>The technology uses minimal land and up to 95% less water than conventional agriculture. </p><p>The hydroponics system places the plants' roots directly into a water-based and nutrient-rich solution instead of soil. This "closed loop" system captures and recirculates all the water, rather than allowing it to drain away — useful for a country like the UAE suffering from extremely high water stress.</p><p>Globally, agriculture accounts for 70% of freshwater withdrawals, and UAE is extracting groundwater faster than it can be replenished, according to the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA).</p><p>"Water is very expensive over in the UAE, but energy is cheap as it is subsidized," says Jan Westra, a strategic business developer at Priva, a company providing technology to vertical farms.</p><p>The artificially controlled environment is energy intensive because the air conditioning and LED lights need a constant source of electricity.</p><p>This bringing forth of life in the desert could come at a high environmental cost. Most of that energy comes from carbon-emitting fossil fuels, even as the Middle Eastern country feel the effects of climate change.</p><p>By 2050 Abu Dhabi's average temperature is <a href="https://benthamopen.com/FULLTEXT/TOASCJ-13-56" target="_blank">predicted to increase by around 2.5°C</a> (36.5 F) in a business-as-usual scenario. Over the next 70 years patterns of rainfall are also expected to change.</p>
Integrating Renewable Energy<p>Although Pure Harvest is building a solar-powered farm in neighboring Saudi Arabia, its UAE operations get electricity from the carbon-intensive national grid.</p><p>Investing more in renewables "is a goal of ours," Kurtz told DW. He said the company has not set a clean energy target but is working on various green power projects, including a plan to integrate solar power generated in UAE into its operations. </p><p>However, Willem van der Schans, a researcher specializing in short supply chains at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, says sustainability and clean energy should be "inherent in the technology and included in plans when starting a vertical farm." </p><p>He argues that many vertical farming companies are not sustainable in terms of energy as they still view clean power as an optional "add-on."</p><p>Ismahane Elouafi, director general of the government funded ICBA in Abu Dhabi, acknowledges that vertical farming has some way to go before achieving "real sustainability," but she believes the innovations are "promising."</p><p>Improved battery storage, increasingly efficient LED lights and cheaper solar panels will help, she adds. </p>
Local Solutions<p>By 2050, the UAE government wants to generate almost half its energy from renewable sources.</p><p>Fred Ruijgt, a vertical farming specialist at Priva, argues that it's important to factor transport and refrigeration into the energy equation. Vertical farming uses more energy to grow crops than traditional agriculture, but because crops are grown locally, they do not have to be transported by air, sea or truck over long distances. </p><p>"The energy saving is difficult to calculate exactly, but the advantages of locally grown crops are huge," he says, adding that those grown in vertical farms not only use less water and pesticides, but that they also have a longer shelf life due to minimal transportation time. </p>
Food Security and Coronavirus<p>In 2018, the UAE set out its vision to become a hub for high-tech local food production.</p><p>Companies and investors have flocked to the region, attracted by the 0% corporate tax rate, low labor costs and cheap energy. With their help, UAE aims to reduce its reliance on imports and make its food system more resilient to shocks like climate change and pandemics. </p><p>Oshima from Aerofarms says the coronavirus pandemic has brought "greater appreciation of how fragile the supply chain is and raised questions about food safety and security."</p><p>When the UAE went into lockdown in April, imported supplies of perishable goods like vegetables fell and business boomed for local suppliers.</p><p>ICBA's Elouafi said they have helped keep the UAE well-stocked during the pandemic.</p><p>"With the help of local food production and adequate imports, there has been absolutely no shortage of food in the UAE," Elouafi told DW.</p><p>Climate change, however, poses an altogether more complex threat to the country in the long-term. Given climate change's likely impact on food production, she says vertical farming has shown it is "an economically viable proposition even with harsh climatic conditions."</p>
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Rainforests are an important defense against climate change because they absorb carbon. But many are being destroyed on a massive scale.
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By Julian Agyeman and Kofi Boone
Underlying the recent unrest sweeping U.S. cities over police brutality is a fundamental inequity in wealth, land and power that has circumscribed black lives since the end of slavery in the U.S.
Land Grab<p>The proportion of the United States under black ownership has actually shrunk over <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2019/06/19/why-racial-wealth-gap-persists-more-than-years-after-emancipation/" target="_blank">the last 100 years or so</a>.</p><p>At their peak in 1910, <a href="https://psmag.com/news/african-american-farmers-make-up-less-than-2-percent-of-all-us-farmers" target="_blank">African American farmers</a> made up around 14% of all U.S. farmers, owning <a href="https://www.ers.usda.gov/webdocs/publications/46984/19353_ra174h_1_.pdf?v=41056#:%7E:text=Land%20ownership%20by%20Black%20farmers,acres%20owned%20by%20White%20farmers." target="_blank">16 to 19 million acres of land</a>. By 2012, black Americans represented just 1.6% of the farming community, owning 3.6 million acres of land. Another study shows a <a href="https://thecounter.org/usda-black-farmers-discrimination-tom-vilsack-reparations-civil-rights/" target="_blank">98% decline</a> in black farmers between 1920 and 1997. This contrasts sharply with an <a href="https://www.ers.usda.gov/webdocs/publications/46984/19353_ra174h_1_.pdf?v=41056#:%7E:text=Land%20ownership%20by%20Black%20farmers,acres%20owned%20by%20White%20farmers." target="_blank">increase in acres owned by white farmers</a> over the same period.</p><p>In <a href="https://archive.org/details/timetoact1545usda" target="_blank">a 1998 report</a>, the U.S. Department of Agriculture ascribed this decline to a long and "well-documented" history of discrimination against black farmers, ranging from New Deal and USDA <a href="https://eji.org/news/one-million-black-families-have-lost-their-farms/" target="_blank">discriminatory practices</a> dating from the 1930s to 1950s-era exclusion from legal, title and loan resources.</p><p>Discriminatory practices have also affected who owns property as well as land. In 2017, the racial homeownership gap was <a href="https://www.urban.org/urban-wire/breaking-down-black-white-homeownership-gap" target="_blank">at its highest level for 50 years</a>, with 79.1% of white Americans owning a home compared to 41.8% of black Americans. This gap is even larger than it was when <a href="https://www.cbsnews.com/news/redlining-what-is-history-mike-bloomberg-comments/" target="_blank">racist housing practices such as redlining</a>, which denied black residents mortgages to buy, or loans to renovate, property were legal.</p><p>The lack of ownership is crucial to understanding the crippling economic disparity that has <a href="https://prosperitynow.org/blog/black-and-latino-households-are-short-road-zero-wealth-hollowing-out-americas-historic-middle" target="_blank">hollowed out the black middle class</a> and continues to plague black America – making it harder to accrue wealth and pass it on to future generations.</p><p>A 2017 <a href="https://www.bostonfed.org/publications/one-time-pubs/color-of-wealth.aspx" target="_blank">report</a> found that the median net worth for non-immigrant black American households in the greater Boston region was just US $8, but for whites it was $247,500. This was due to "general housing and lending discrimination through restrictive covenants, redlining and other lending practices."</p><p>Nationally, between 1983 and 2013, median <a href="https://prosperitynow.org/resources/road-zero-wealth" target="_blank">black household wealth decreased</a> by 75% to $1,700 while median white household wealth increased 14% to $116,800.</p>
Freedom Farms<p>Land ownership today could look very different. The idea of collective ownership has a long history in the United States. Even during slavery, a piece of ground was granted by slave masters for enslaved African subsistence farming. The <a href="https://www.dukeupress.edu/sylvia-wynter" target="_blank">Jamaican social theorist Sylvia Wynter</a> called this land "the plot."</p><p><a href="https://www.aaihs.org/towards-usable-histories-of-the-black-commons/" target="_blank">Wynter has explained</a> how that these parcels of land were transformed into communal areas where slaves could establish their own social order, sustain traditional African folklore and foodways – growing yams, cassava and sweet potatoes. Plots were often called "<a href="https://english.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/DeLoughrey-Yam-Roots-Rot-Small-Axe.pdf" target="_blank">yam grounds</a>," so important was this staple food.</p><p>The connection between food, land, power and cultural survival was subversive in its nature. By appropriating physical space to support collective growing practices within the brutal constraints of slavery, black people also demonstrated the need for common, shared mental space to enable their survival and resistance. Herbalism, medicine and midwifery, and other African American <a href="https://uncpress.org/book/9780807853788/working-cures-/" target="_blank">healing practices</a> were seen as acts of resistance that were "intimately tied to religion and community," according to historian Sharla M. Fett.</p><p>With the end of slavery, these plots disappeared.</p>
Credit Unions and Co-Ops<p>The accumulation of wealth was not the only desired consequence of a black commons.</p><p>In 1967, <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/30/us/harold-cruse-social-critic-and-fervent-black-nationalist-dies-at-89.html" target="_blank">social critic Harold Cruse</a> argued for a "<a href="https://www.jstor.org/stable/40034433?seq=1" target="_blank">new institutionalism</a>" that would create a "new dynamic synthesis of politics, economics, and culture." In his view, economic ventures needed to be grounded in the greater aspirations of black communities – politically, culturally and economically. This could be achieved through a black commons.</p><p>As the political economist <a href="https://www.jjay.cuny.edu/faculty/jessica-gordon-nembhard" target="_blank">Jessica Gordon Nembhard</a> <a href="http://www.psupress.org/books/titles/978-0-271-06216-7.html" target="_blank">has noted</a> in reference to black <a href="https://www.essence.com/news/bankblack-listing-black-owned-banks-credit-unions-united-states/" target="_blank">credit unions and mutual aid funds</a>, "African Americans, as well as other people of color and low-income people, have benefited greatly from cooperative ownership and democratic economic participation throughout the nation's history."</p><p>The nonprofit <a href="https://centerforneweconomics.org/" target="_blank">Schumacher Center for a New Economics</a> is working to rejuvenate the idea of black commons. In a 2018 statement, the <a href="https://centerforneweconomics.org/publications/proposal-for-a-black-commons/" target="_blank">center proposed to adopt a community land trust structure</a> "to serve as a national vehicle to amass purchased and gifted lands in a black commons with the specific purpose of facilitating low-cost access for black Americans hitherto without such access."</p><p>Meanwhile, shared equity housing schemes and <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-04-29/alternative-homeownership-land-trusts-and-co-ops" target="_blank">community land trusts</a> <a href="https://www.lincolninst.edu/publications/working-papers/tracking-growth-evaluating-performance-shared-equity-homeownership" target="_blank">continue to grow</a>, helping black families own property, <a href="https://housingmatters.urban.org/articles/how-community-land-trusts-can-advance-racial-and-economic-justice" target="_blank">advance racial and economic justice</a> and mitigate displacement resulting from gentrification.</p>
Digital Commons<p>The disproportionate effects of the <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/racial-ethnic-minorities.html" target="_blank">coronavirus pandemic</a> and unrest over <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/police-violence-pandemic/2020/06/05/e1a2a1b0-a669-11ea-b619-3f9133bbb482_story.html" target="_blank">police brutality</a> have highlighted deeply embedded structural racism. Organizations such as Black Lives Matter and the <a href="https://m4bl.org/" target="_blank">Movement for Black Lives</a> are demonstrating a renewed vigor around collective action and a blueprint for how this can be achieved in a digital age. At the same time, black Americans are also forging a cultural commons through events such as DJ D-Nice's <a href="https://www.oprahmag.com/entertainment/a31860967/dj-dnice-instagram-dance-party-coronavirus-quarantine/" target="_blank">Club Quarantine</a> – a <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/adriennegibbs/2020/03/28/dj-d-nice-just-had-the-best-quarantine-week-ever/#2c57f81c47dc" target="_blank">hugely popular</a> online dance party. Club Quarantine's success indicates the potential for using online platforms to facilitate community building, pointing toward future economic cooperation.</p><p>That's what organizations like <a href="http://urbanpatch.org/" target="_blank">Urban Patch</a> are trying to do. The nonprofit group uses crowdsourced funding to build community spaces in inner city areas of Indianapolis and encourage collective economic development that echoes the black commons of years past.</p><p>The long history of racism in the United States has held back black Americans for generations. But the current soul searching over this legacy is also an unrivaled opportunity to look again at the idea of collective black action and ownership, using it to create a community and economy that goes beyond just ownership of land for wealth's sake.</p>
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By Martin Kuebler
With hotter summers, severe storms and prolonged dry spells in the forecast, the outlook for Europe's farmers is daunting.
<div id="7b57a" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a3140c63ff0a97771d0ad3f85329d728"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1174945780358008833" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">❓How concerned are you about the impact of #climatechange on #farming in #Europe? #Adaptation will be crucial - fin… https://t.co/XPkbPic6DY</div> — EU EnvironmentAgency (@EU EnvironmentAgency)<a href="https://twitter.com/EUEnvironment/statuses/1174945780358008833">1568963878.0</a></blockquote></div><p>Places in northern Europe, meanwhile, could see agricultural benefits from climate change, including longer growing seasons and a shorter frost period "allowing the cultivation of new crops and varieties," said the report. Suitable cropland around the Baltic Sea could more than double by 2100, from 32% of land area today to about 76%, with certain crops now common to southern Europe taking root further north.</p>
UK, Scandinavian Wines<p>Those climatic changes have already borne fruit — quite literally. In the northern German state of Lower Saxony, where average temperatures have risen nearly 2 degrees Celsius in the last several decades, some farmers have started cultivating fruits typically found further south, such as apricots and nectarines. And wine cultivation, typically associated with more southern slopes in France, Spain and Italy, is now taking off in places like Denmark, Sweden and the United Kingdom.</p><p><a href="https://www.ryedalevineyards.co.uk/" target="_blank">Ryedale Vineyards</a>, in northeastern England, has been producing British wines since 2006. As one of the UK's northernmost wineries, it relies mainly on hybrid disease-resistant grape varieties more suited to northern Europe's cooler regions.</p><p>The warming trend of the past decades has seen the UK's wine industry quadruple in size since 2000, with English vineyards producing some 13.2 million bottles in 2018. But the changing climate does pose other challenges, including unusual weather patterns and increased risk of disease associated with wetter summers. which have been linked to climate change.</p><p>"Unpredictable weather events, droughts and intense summer storms are a real problem and seem to have increased in frequency," said Jon Fletcher, who runs Ryedale Vineyards with his family. In an email to DW, he listed off the challenges: late frosts, destructive hailstorms and dry spells that can last for months. "This year we have already had the sunniest May on record and no rainfall for two months, so the unpredictable weather continues."</p><p>"Climate change is posing a risk for the sustainability of vineyard management at global scale and, particularly, in Europe," said Josep Maria Sole of <a href="http://visca.eu/" target="_blank">VISCA (Vineyards Integrated Smart Climate Application)</a>, an EU-funded project that aims to help Europe's wine industry develop medium- and long-term adaption strategies. He said wine producing areas will increasingly suffer from intense heat waves and droughts and, in certain regions in Spain, more intense spring frosts, which can damage grapevine buds.</p><p>Blaz Kurnik, an expert on climate change impacts and adaptation at the EEA, said these higher temperatures, especially warmer winters, will also favor the introduction of new diseases and pests, including the olive fruit fly. Increasing swarms are threatening Europe's olive oil industry, responsible for around three-quarters of the world's supply. "In the worst-case scenario, up to 80% of [Italy's] olive trees will be affected by this every year," said Kurnik, adding that flies were also infesting Spain's olive groves.</p>
Mango, Avocado and Lychee: Europe's Future Cash Crops?<p>Italy, which ranks second in the world for olive oil production, saw a disastrous harvest in 2018. Bad weather and frost caused production to drop by 57%, representing a loss of nearly €1 billion ($1.13 billion).</p><p>Sicily is one of Italy's top olive oil-producing regions, along with Calabria and Puglia. But some farmers there have begun focusing their attention on crops native to tropical regions, including mangoes, avocado and lychee fruit. </p><p>Tropical crops were first introduced to Sicily back in the 1970s, but recent years have seen an exponential growth of these crops and the introduction of new species such as papaya, replacing citrus fruits which "are no longer remunerative," said Vittorio Farina, an associate professor in agriculture at the University of Palermo.</p><p>"The favorable climate of many areas in the Mediterranean basin is promoting tropical fruit cultivations," he said in an email to DW. "In fact, the predominant mango and avocado production is concentrated in tropical countries, but recently its cultivation has spread outside the traditional geographical regions to the Mediterranean basin and in particular in Egypt, Israel, South Africa, Europe, mainly Spain and Italy."</p><p>Farina said a succession of milder winters has favored the expansion of mango, avocado and papaya orchards destined for export markets further north, though the corresponding drier summers and extreme weather events remain a challenge.</p><p><span></span>"The problem of the scarcity of water resources for agriculture will increasingly impose the introduction of species with low water requirements," said Farina, suggesting the possible introduction of fruit like the cactus pear. "For most other tropical species, irrigation in the warm months in the dry areas is an essential condition for obtaining a quality product." Farina said they were testing precision irrigation strategies to limit the water footprint of the tropical crops.</p>
Finding the Right Solution<p>Margarita Ruiz-Ramos, an associate professor at the Polytechnic University of Madrid, told DW that new crops were also being tested in Spain, including pistachios. However, she stressed that the priority now was experimenting with different varieties of existing crops that could withstand new growing conditions — such as types of fruit that don't rely as heavily on winter chill to produce spring blossoms.</p><p>"There already is the possibility to adapt the variety without changing the [main] crop in the short to medium term," she said, pointing out that some crops could also shift to other more suitable areas within the same country.</p><p>As part of her work at the <a href="http://ceigram.upm.es/" target="_blank">Research Center for the Management of Agricultural and Environmental Risks</a>, Ruiz-Ramos analyzes crop varieties, planting schedules, soil conditions, irrigation options and many other variables to find the optimum strategy for farmers and "design locally tailored adaptations." The most promising solutions are then tested in the field.</p><p>"It's a compromise between different needs. And that's why it's not so obvious as to just bring in some African crops," she said. However, she didn't rule out the fact that dramatic temperature changes could one day lead growers to take a chance on non-native crops.</p><p>Yves Madre, a co-founder of <a href="https://www.farm-europe.eu/" target="_blank">Brussels-based think tank Farm Europe</a>, said the EU's farming sector needs to be more open to new breeding techniques that would introduce drought and disease-tolerance genes to existing crops, which can include genome editing.</p><p>With more innovation and investment, he said the EU would be able to meet its goals in terms of food security and growth, especially in rural areas.</p>
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By Peyton Fleming
Gerison Ndwiga, a small rural farmer in Kenya, felt the economic sting of COVID-19 just days after the government announced a curfew and travel restrictions in late March.