When it comes to agriculture and climate change, there’s one thing that might bring Republicans and Democrats together, according to POLITICO: regenerative farming.
“Democrats and Republicans have been bitterly divided over whether measures to address climate change should be part of the half-trillion-dollar farm bill that Congress will write next year. But a push to include funding for so-called regenerative agriculture is appealing to GOP lawmakers who are watching farmers contend with sky-high fertilizer prices and other mounting costs,” POLITICO reported over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
The current Farm Bill expires at the end of September 2023, and the new Farm Bill will be a key priority of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees in the new Congress.
What is regenerative farming?
In short, regenerative farming recognizes farms as part of a larger ecosystem, explains the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.
Also called “climate-smart agriculture,” a term frequently used by the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), regenerative farming practices include low-till or no-till farming, planting cover crops, and crop rotation, which can draw carbon from the atmosphere and put it back in the soil.
“Evidence shows that regenerative approaches can both address the environmental and productivity needs. Farms that focus on soil health are experiencing year-on-year yield increase,” according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.
Biotechnology can make regenerative farming more efficient
Biotech can make these regenerative farming practices even more effective—with tools like gene editing crops to have bigger, deeper roots.
In nature, crops and plants do a very good job of capturing carbon from the atmosphere. However, all of the carbon captured is stored in the roots, and once these plants are harvested, the roots are pulled out as well.
The deeper roots help enable the carbon to stay in the ground. This allows the plants to suck up even more carbon from the atmosphere and store it in the soil, which replenishes the soil and reduces the need for fertilizer.
These practices can also make crops more nutritious, Bio.News previously reported.
Climate-smart farming practices need a boost
BIO has long called for climate-smart farming practices—which can benefit farmers, the environment, and our food supply.
As Good Day BIO reported last year, innovation can boost agriculture, making it more resilient in the face of climate change, self-sustaining, and also a tool to help drive economic recovery. However, in order to realize the benefits of regenerative farming, a new report explained, we must:
- Incentivize the adoption of innovative, sustainable technologies and practices.
- Streamline and expedite regulatory pathways for breakthrough technology solutions.
- Invest in agricultural technology to sustainably increase production while sequestering greater amounts of carbon in the soil, and enable producers to be more resilient to climate change—and help early and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers access it.
We need to incentivize the adoption of these technologies and remove barriers to accessing them, according to BIO.