Carbon Farming: The Present and Future of Agriculture

  • June 29, 2020

All farmers know that the element carbon is a valuable resource. This element is essential to all living things and can be found in everything from our bodies to our food to soil to cow manure.

In North Central Indiana, a farmer named Brent Bible has taken the importance of carbon to a new level. In fact, he is one of many farmers in a continually expanding group called “carbon farmers.” His story, made public by the news platform, Wired, is just one of many examples of farmers around the world who are doing their part to reduce greenhouse gases.

In Washington State livestock and crop farmers are just as innovative. Farmers know that taking care of their soil sustains their farms for future generations. Furthermore,  healthy soil promotes healthy ecosystems in the surrounding forests, streams, and landscapes, protecting and continually restoring life on earth. Save Family Farming is currently in the process of documenting the work Washington dairy farmers are doing to wisely manage carbon, such as maintaining perennial grasses with minimal tillage, and harvesting and fertilizing at appropriate times.

In March of 2019, Washington Legislature passed a bill for Sustainable Farms and Fields. This new program will help to fund carbon sequestation practices within the Washington agriculture community in an effort to counter an increase in global warming and cliamte change.

For Indiana corn and soybean farmer Bible, the movement to be a “carbon farmer” who can promote carbon sequestration and trade carbon credits, is a passion. On June 24th, Bible testified before the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee to move a bill that will establish inspectors certified under the USDA to analyze farms pursuing carbon conservation and sequestration.

Kristen Belair, a winemaker at a vineyard in Napa Valley California, also sees carbon farming as also an important part of farming practices. Belair mentioned to Wired that she knows changing agricultural practices is not going to stop global warming overnight, but it will make a difference in how farmers maintain their land in the long run. “We have to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by a lot,” Belair said to Wired. “It’s going to take a multi-pronged system to do that.”

Since there is currently little incentive to promote carbon management, it’s not necessarily top priority for many farmers. However, in order to wisely manage carbon, farmers know that they need to take action.  “If I am incentivized to perform a function and produce a product, and the ability to reduce our carbon footprint is a product we can manufacture, then we are going to do that,” Bible told Wired. “Agriculture has proved it can do that very well.”

Experts who have studied this do think that farms make an impact. With so many farms already working towards going carbon neutral, there is potential all over the United States, and the world, to establish a stronger system for keeping the planet healthy.

To read the full article by news platform Wired and learn more about Bible and Belair’s stories, click here: https://www.wired.com/story/carbon-farming-could-make-us-agriculture-truly-green/

Stay tuned to Save Family Farming and Real Environmental Action and Leadership for updates on how our dairy farmers in Washington are demonstrating carbon potential.

To learn more about the Legisative Bill, read more here: https://www.carbonwa.org/action-blog/washington-legislature-passes-sustainable-farms-fields-bill

More on the history of the bill here: https://app.leg.wa.gov/billsummary?BillNumber=5947&Initiative=false&Year=2019