Growing Returns

Good manure management must involve ammonia emissions, too

When it comes to livestock and environmental impacts, methane emission reductions are often top of mind — and for good reason. Lowering methane emissions from animal agriculture is one of the fastest ways to slow down climate change. However, important local air pollutants like ammonia are seldom discussed with the same frequency or urgency.

Agriculture needs a path forward that jointly addresses its global climate impacts and its local environmental and public health impacts in an equitable way. Methane and ammonia must be managed in tandem. Read More »

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Two ways to improve soil carbon measurement

Farmer checking soil health with their hands.

Carbon markets and carbon monitoring programs track changes in cropland soil carbon stock over time to determine how agricultural management practices impact carbon storage in soil.

Soil carbon stock is typically measured by taking soil samples prior to the adoption of a new farming practice, followed by additional sampling after the practice has been in effect for several years.

However, commonly used methods to measure soil carbon stocks may not accurately capture how that carbon is changing over time, potentially undermining important mitigation efforts.

We need scientifically robust and accessible ways to measure soil carbon to ensure that different practice changes deliver reliable results. New research from Environmental Defense Fund highlights two best practices for measuring carbon in soil.

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EU must act to protect farms and food production from climate risk

Farms like the German wheat field depicted must manage climate change risks.

Wheat field near Oberaudorf in Bavaria, Germany by Uwe Schwarzbach.

At the same time as farmers were protesting in European capitals to demand more certainty for their future, the European Environment Agency published a report highlighting serious climate risk to food security. The European Climate Risk Assessment identified 36 major climate risks for Europe related to food, ecosystems, health, infrastructure, the economy and finance. The assessment mapped the direct and cascading effects of these risks and the hotspot areas for the most serious impacts. 

The stark conclusion for food is that “climate impacts on food production (particularly in southern Europe) can cascade to rural and coastal livelihoods, land use, the health of socially vulnerable populations and the wider economy.” The report also warns that while climate-driven food shortages are unlikely because production decreases in some areas may be offset by robust production in other areas, food price increases and volatility are likely.  

For Europe overall, drought, heat and overly wet conditions will hurt regional production. Southern Europe already faces critical levels of climate risk. Successive years of prolonged drought and excessive heat have resulted in crop failures and reduced yields to the tune of 60% reductions for corn yields in some southern European countries.  

EU policymakers and farmers’ business partners must act urgently to support EU farmers in building resilience to climate risk and adopting climate-friendly farming solutions. This is essential to keep the agriculture sector profitable and productive in a climate-changed world.  Read More »

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Developing effective ways to measure a community’s climate resilience

Co-authored by: Anushi Garg and Ravena Pernanand

Anushi is the senior analyst for Environmental Defense Fund’s Climate Resilient Coasts & Watersheds program in New York-New Jersey. Ravena is a research analyst at Regional Plan Association.

Across the globe, we are experiencing detrimental impacts from climate change, with low-wealth communities and communities of color hit the hardest. And while there are several ways we can measure climate impacts — such as determining sea level rise or increasing temperatures — we still lack ways to easily answer the question “how resilient are we?” Or “how does one community’s resilience compare to another?” The right tools are needed to understand how well our communities, ecosystems and infrastructure bounce back from or avoid climate impacts in order for government officials, advocates and community members to effectively assess, track and implement future solutions.  

To address this gap, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and Regional Plan Association (RPA) collaborated on a pilot project alongside partners and stakeholders in New York City. We characterized stakeholders’ resilience priorities, such as having access to affordable and climate-safe shelter, and identified indicators that could measure the progress of these priorities.   Read More »

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PACE Crop Insurance helps an Illinois farmer improve conservation and save money

Co-authored by Pinion

The use and production of fertilizer in agriculture is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and a major cause of pollution in the nation’s rivers and lakes. Agriculture is the largest global source of nitrogen pollution, and annual damages from nitrogen pollution are estimated to exceed $200 billion in the US. Enhancing nitrogen use efficiency and optimizing application techniques is essential to reducing these impacts.

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How food companies can harness the power of social networks for scope 3 reductions

As the spotlight on the food sector’s impact on global emissions grows, particularly as the voluntary and regulatory spaces for agriculture, forestry, and other land use drive increasing scrutiny, many major food companies have announced ambitious science-based climate targets. Food and agriculture companies face a unique challenge in meeting these targets, however, as the lion’s share of their emissions lie in their Scope 3 — on the farms that supply their products and ingredients. Driving down those emissions requires companies to engage and support farmers to roll out climate solutions.

While many are rightly focused on financial incentives to encourage adoption of climate-smart agriculture practices, a newly released report sheds light on another, under-appreciated lever of change: farmers’ social networks.

New research from Colorado State University, funded by Environmental Defense Fund, explores how companies can work with farming communities via social networks to meet climate goals and drive reductions in scope 3 emissions, while building farmer resilience to climate change shocks. Read More »

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Five reasons why mandatory flood disclosure in Florida would be a big win for realtors

By: Rachel Rhode, Manager, Climate Resilient Coasts and Watersheds and Eve Cooke, Fellow, Climate Resilient Coasts and Watersheds

Buying a home is often one of the biggest financial decisions individuals and families will ever make. More than one-third of Florida properties are at risk of severe flooding in the next 30 years, and despite these risks, Florida does not require flood-related disclosures to prospective homebuyers. Across the U.S., 32 states have enacted flood disclosure laws, requiring a seller to share a property’s flood risks or past flood damages during real estate transactions. Florida residents deserve transparency through flood disclosure, and realtors would benefit by keeping up with this growing industry standard.   

Knowing one’s risk is essential in ensuring effective preparedness and response. The Federal Emergency Management Agency estimates just one inch of flooding in a typical 2,500 sq. ft., one-story home can cause more than $25,000 in damages. It is widely misunderstood by more than one-third of homeowners that flood damage is typically not included in standard homeowners or rental insurance policies. 

Legislators and realtors are stepping up to address this gap in Florida’s flood policies. In the 2024 Florida Legislative Session, there has been bipartisan support for a new policy on flood disclosure. The Florida Realtor Association is amongst the stakeholders supporting this initiative. 

Knowledge is power.  Below are the top five reasons why mandatory flood disclosures are a win for realtors and residents. 

Credit: Chase Guttman

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Lenders want to support farmers’ conservation efforts. Here’s how their executives can help.

corn plants in a conservation practice field in the midwest

Low angle view of young corn plants in a field after the rain


A new survey of agricultural lenders in the upper Midwest reveals important insights about their perceptions and support for farmers’ conservation efforts. As the first of its kind, the survey can inform agricultural lending institutions’ climate and sustainability strategy development.

Farmers rely on agricultural lending institutions for loans to cover equipment, land and operating expenses. In particular, loan officers at these institutions hold relationships with farmers and are often seen as trusted advisers and sources of information. Their perspectives and knowledge of conservation agriculture can significantly influence farmers’ progress in adopting conservation practices.

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Our Nation’s wetlands are at risk. So is our ability to manage flooding.

Following the Sackett v. EPA Supreme Court decision in May 2023, millions of acres of wetlands across the U.S. lost critical federal protections they once had under the Clean Water Act. The affected wetlands – which include those that do not have a continuous surface water connection to another federally protected body of water, like streams, lakes or an ocean – are now potentially at risk of loss and degradation. Also at risk could be the multitude of benefits provided by wetlands, which support clean drinking water, habitat for fish and wildlife, human health and well-being, contribute to economic activity and reduce damages from flooding. 

Photo credit: Sara Cottle

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Advancing North Carolina’s Flood Resiliency Blueprint to combat growing storm risks

Over the past five years, North Carolina communities have endured storm after storm. From the estimated $16 billion of damage caused by the powerful forces of Hurricane Florence to excessive rainfall that engulfed mountain towns during Tropical Storm Fred to the lasting impacts from various unnamed storms, we’ve seen firsthand how flooding disasters are changing North Carolina and its communities.  

Now, more than ever, new approaches are required to address the increasing rate and severity of extreme rain events in North Carolina to safeguard communities, ecosystems and local economies. One way to reduce these risks is to build flood resilience across the state, an effort that has proven to save $6 for every $1 spent pre-disaster 

North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is developing the state’s first-ever Flood Resiliency Blueprint in collaboration with numerous stakeholders, including Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), conservation partners, agricultural organizations, business representatives and local governments. And we are thrilled to celebrate the release of DEQ’s draft plan, which was presented to the General Assembly on January 23.  

At the Joint Legislative Commission on Government Operations Hurricane Response and Recovery subcommittee, DEQ Secretary Elizabeth Biser envisioned that “five years from now, other states will be looking to North Carolina because our process lets communities get back to day to day living quicker after storm events.” The Blueprint is a big step forward, resulting in a massive statewide effort dedicated to building resilient communities equipped to reduce and manage flood risk and vulnerabilities. 

Photo credit: Gene Gallin

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