Growing Returns

Selected tag(s): farmers

Revisiting a centuries-old approach to farming that embraces water scarcity.

As discussions at COP28 wrestle with climate impacts on global food and water security, we hear from a Hopi farmer on his thriving practice of dry farming and his hopes for shared learning in Dubai.

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The arid climate of the Hopi reservation in northeastern Arizona receives a mere 8.5 inches of annual rainfall. For perspective, the yearly United States average is 30 inches. Despite this severe aridity, for over 3,000 years, the Hopi people have stewarded an extraordinary agricultural tradition centered on dry farming.

Dr. Michael Kotutwa Johnson is an Indigenous Resiliency Specialist at the University of Arizona and a leading practitioner of Hopi dry farming — a form of agriculture that eschews irrigation in regions with limited water moisture. As a 250th-generation Hopi dry farmer, his ongoing traditional practices are a  testament to the power of cultural values and the potential of climate-adaptive farming. These ongoing Hopi farming practices defy modern notions of crop needs and vulnerability in areas with limited irrigation and water supply.

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The growing threat of heat for farmworkers

Farmworkers in field picking yellow squash outside in the heat.

Dangerous health effects and heat-related illnesses result when the body is unable to maintain a safe core temperature through measures like sweating. Symptoms range from mild effects to severe illness and even death.

The summer of 2023 has been one of record-breaking heat with devastating consequences for people, crops and livestock. As the climate continues to warm, heat wave intensity, frequency and duration will increase across the globe.

U.S. farmworkers — invaluable, often unrecognized contributors to food production and the trillion-dollar agricultural economy — are at exceptionally high risk for heat-related health consequences. A report from Environmental Defense Fund and La Isla Network finds that the average U.S. agricultural worker is currently exposed to an estimated 21 unsafe working days due to heat each May-September. Crop workers are also 20 times more likely to die from heat-stress-related illness than civilian workers in the U.S.   Read More »

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How Farm Credit Canada uses partnerships to help farmers invest in sustainable practices

Fields in Canada being farmed.

Fields in Canada being farmed.

In 2022, Farm Credit Canada launched the Sustainability Incentive Program to recognize and encourage customers to implement sustainable farming practices. Through the program, FCC partners with agriculture industry-led sustainability initiatives that have established systems for verifying and measuring environmental outcomes. This model has allowed FCC to offer innovative financial incentives to farmers producing several different commodities.

I sat down with Curtis Grainger, FCC’s Director of Lending Products and Sustainability Programs, to learn more about Farm Credit Canada’s Sustainability Incentive Program.

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New report: Investing in Arizona’s water future

This blog is co-authored by Rachel O’Connor, Manager, Climate Resilient Water Systems.

As Arizona’s water crisis worsens due to extreme drought and overuse, more attention than ever is being directed toward addressing this critical issue. At the federal level, an influx of funding has become available through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act. And at the state level, the Water Infrastructure Finance Authority (WIFA) has just begun accepting proposals for its first allocation of $200M for water conservation projects

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New report shows climate change will impact strawberry production in Florida

Authors: Dawn Shirreffs and Kelly Suttles

In 2022, the Florida legislature created the official designation of strawberry shortcake as the State Dessert. Key lime pie advocates may yet have a second chance to emerge victorious as important new research by Environmental Defense Fund and Two Degrees Adapt signals concern for growing strawberries in the Sunshine State due to climate change.

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Agricultural banks expect climate change to pose financial risks. Here are five strategies to help them adapt.

Climate change is projected to impact agricultural production worldwide, and 87% of agricultural finance institutions in a recent survey expect it to present risks to their business. Meanwhile, only 24% significantly factor climate change into their decision-making processes.

new guide from EDF and Deloitte offers five strategies for agricultural finance institutions to manage climate risks and act on climate opportunities. These five strategies integrate climate into agricultural finance institutions’ existing risk frameworks and take a proactive approach to help farmers and ranchers adapt to climate change:

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New analysis shows cover crops and no-till reduce crop insurance claims

Soybeans in a cover crop (cereal rye).

The extremely wet spring of 2019 caused 14.2 million acres of cropland to go unplanted in the Midwest. Farmers across the region had flooded fields that kept them from getting equipment onto the fields to plant their crops. This resulted in over $4 billion of prevent-plant crop insurance claims, which assists farmers when weather conditions keep them from planting a crop altogether. Amidst these adverse weather challenges, farmers who were using cover crops and no-till reported facing less water on their fields, which allowed them to plant when their neighbors couldn’t.

A new study backs up these Midwest farmer stories with big data. Read More »

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The farm bill is a powerful opportunity for agricultural climate solutions

U.S. farmers, ranchers and foresters will need additional tools and resources to protect their land, keep growing food on a changing planet and contribute to national efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. That’s where the farm bill comes in.

The farm bill is a critical piece of legislation that comes up every five years. It authorizes programs that provide producers with a safety net in tough times and supports them in adopting climate-friendly production practices.

As Congress begins writing the next farm bill, new recommendations from the Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance provide some of the most significant alignment on climate and agriculture policy priorities to date. Read More »

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Major banks are setting climate targets. What the agricultural finance sector needs to know.

Many major banks have set targets to reduce financed greenhouse gas emissions in their loan portfolios to zero by 2050 (also known as net zero targets). They join a growing movement of companies throughout the agricultural supply chain to set ambitious targets to reach net zero by 2050 to prevent the most severe impacts from climate change.

The Banking for Impact on Climate in Agriculture (B4ICA) initiative recently published “An introductory guide for net zero target setting for farm-based agricultural emissions” that shares best practices for banks to set net zero GHG emissions targets for their agricultural loan portfolios. The guidance helps banks setting agricultural sector emissions reduction targets as part of their commitments to the Net Zero Banking Alliance ­— an alliance of 122 banks representing 40% of global bank assets that have committed to aligning their assets with net zero GHG emissions by 2050 or sooner. Read More »

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How companies can reduce nitrogen pollution and measure progress toward climate goals

Nitrogen is essential for life, but excess nitrogen can pollute the atmosphere and water. This has a huge impact on human and ecosystem health, as well as financial losses to farmers from fertilizer — which is at a record high price — that ultimately won’t be utilized by crops.

EDF’s new N Balance Implementation Guide provides a comprehensive and pragmatic road map for food and agriculture companies to help reduce nitrogen pollution from agricultural production and claim the environmental improvements associated with nitrogen management.

n-balance

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