agroecology


Soil cross-section
Protecting and increasing soil carbon and soil health in agricultural soils is critical for both climate change mitigation and adaptation. Photo: USDA-NRCS

Soil Carbon Can’t Fix Climate Change By Itself—But It Needs to Be Part of the Solution

, agroecologist

A rigorous study just published in the prestigious journal Science argues that soil alone cannot be can be counted on to save us from climate change. Yet the stark analysis does not undermine the importance of better understanding, protecting, and building carbon in soils (“carbon farming”). In fact, the findings reinforce the need for soil carbon science and action to remain priorities, especially when it comes to agriculture. Read more >

Photo: USDA-NRCS
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Did the Local Food Movement Trickle Down to Local Farmers?

Dawn Thilmany McFadden, , UCS

We are quickly approaching the 10th anniversary of the March 2007 Time magazine cover on local food, a milestone indicating that the local food movement became a mainstream phenomenon. Today, there is continued public interest in local and regional food systems. But have these systems actually been able to support the farms and ranches that they depend on? Read more >

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Photo: Iowa State University/Lisa Schulte Moore Photo: Iowa State University/Lisa Schulte Moore

How US Farm Subsidies Make Taxpayers Pay Twice (And How We Could Change That)

, senior analyst, Food and Environment

Usually, when you buy something, you pay for it just once. But if you’re a US taxpayer, you’re paying twice for the food system you’re “buying” with your hard-earned tax dollars. An example: today’s massive federal farm subsidies encourage farming practices that lead to toxic algae blooms, drinking water pollution, and other costly problems we have to pay for again downstream. By contrast, modest investment in just one proven alternative farming system would achieve annual savings—in the form of water pollution averted—of $850 million. Read more >

Photo: Iowa State University/Lisa Schulte Moore
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Book Review: Cowed’s Message is Less but Better Beef

, scientific adviser, Climate and Energy

There’s a lot to be learned from Cowed, by Denis Hayes and Gail Boyer Hayes. It’s about cows, but the eclectic topics range from the scandalous coverup of mad cow disease, to the origin of modern cattle from the legendary aurochs (i.e. the “Ur-ox”), to the gender politics of the cowboy, to the federal government’s subsidy of beef over-grazing on our public lands, to a visit to a dairy farm run by robots. Yet there’s a serious underlying theme as well—that the U.S. needs a fundamental transformation of its relationship to the cattle industry. Read more >

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Some beef cattle are raised in a way that actually helps to protect and manage healthy grassland ecosystems, making good use of grass in areas not well suited for row crops. Here’s an example of one such healthy grassland ecosystem managed by cattle from Nebraska Sand Hills. (Photo: Aaron Price)]

While BBQ Season Sizzles, a Case for Healthy Farms and Better Beef

, agroecologist

Friends and acquaintances often ask me about what to eat (or not eat) if they are concerned about the impacts of their food choices on the world around them. One of the foods that comes up most frequently in this regard is beef, and that’s what I’d like to talk about today. Read more >

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