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KEY ACTIVITIES

RA Team Goals:

  • Focus team efforts on lobbying for the 2023 Farm Bill until passage by Congress in 2023.
  • Continue to draft Regenerative Agriculture climate-smart policy recommendations for the 2023 Farm Bill.
  • Educate and Create awareness of RA benefits and solutions within our CRP organization as a critical part of the Nature-Based Solutions advocacy group.
  • Develop regenerative agriculture alliances with other influential farm organizations to lobby for new policies for the 2023 Farm Bill.
  • Conduct regenerative agriculture presentations to educate and inform the public.
  • Collaborate with other Climate Reality Project Chapters and Members to influence federal and state farm, ranch and agroforestry legislation.

Download RA Information Sheet (see images below

OBJECTIVE

To advocate and facilitate the transition of farming practices to regenerative agriculture to benefit both the environment and farmers, while restoring soil health and increasing nutrient density. To educate the public of the practices and benefits of implementing RA practices and how the can do this at home on a smaller scale. To petition members of the House Agriculture Committee and the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry to include suppport in the form of subsidies and crop insurance for RA practices, training for NRCS staff, and technical assistance for farmers in the 2023 Farm Bill.

TEAM LEAD

Don Viecelli
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Email Don

Please note, interested attendees of our RA meetings will be invited to join our chapter.

MEETINGS

Monthly on 1st Tuesdays, 6:30–7:30pm

(Check our calendar for more details.)

MISSION / VISION

MISSION:

Our mission is to advocate and facilitate the benefits of Regenerative Agriculture (RA), Silvopasture and Agroforestry practices to farmers, ranchers, and other landowners to increase profitability, improve soil healthand food nutrient density, and combat climate change effects.

VISION:

To restore soil health as nature intended and increase the potential of regenerative agriculture to serve as a carbon sink.

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Regenerative Agriculture Definition

Regenerative Agriculture is a system of farming principles and practices that increases biodiversity, enriches soils, improves watersheds, and enhances the entire ecosystem of the farm. Through carbon sequestration, it captures carbon in the soil by pulling CO2 out of the atmosphere to reverse the damages caused by climate change. It offers increased yields, resilience to climate instability, improved health and vitality for farming communities.

For more, see NRDC’s Regenerative Agriculture 101.

 

2023 Farm Bill

Agricultural Policy Changes for a Sustainable Future: 2023 Farm Bill Proposals

Recommended by Climate Reality Project’s Regenerative Agriculture Coalition
November 7, 2022

Climate Reality Project (CRP), founded by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, is an international organization that recruits, trains, and mobilizes individuals to educate the public about climate change.  Its mission is to catalyze and support viable solutions to the climate crisis by making urgent action a necessity across every sector of society. To that end, the organization has trained more than 43,000 climate leaders who work across five critical areas of focus: Just energy transition, environmental justice and public health, zero-carbon transportation, inclusive green communities, and nature-based solutions, of which regenerative agriculture is a critical part.

Members of the CRP Regenerative Agriculture Coalition have developed these recommendations for the 2023 Farm Bill to urge Congress to re-shape agricultural policy, as it shifts federal funding and resources to support farmers and ranchers to help mitigate the effects of the climate crisis through regenerative agriculture. The coalition’s mission is to have regenerative practices implemented nationwide, involving all farmers and ranchers in soil health-improving practices that can help the United States achieve carbon neutrality and reap environmental improvements in ecosystems around soil, water, and air. Healthy soil will be one of our best allies in addressing erosion, water scarcity, pollution and the health risks it brings, nutrient deficiencies in soil, the loss of biodiversity, extreme weather, endangered farmer livelihoods, and the threats of GHGs.

This is not a time for incremental change. We urge Congress to boldly reform agricultural policies and programs to meet the urgency of the moment. 

Contributors: Pamela Tate, Patty Iverson, Peri Caylor, Celeste Ets-Hokin, Doreen Skardarasy

Read the entire document here.

Agroforestry/Forestry Policy Recommendations for the 2023 Farm Bill
Recommended by Climate Reality Project Tree Coalition
November 7, 2022

Our planet is experiencing unprecedented natural disasters and long-term environmental degradation that threaten life as we know it. These worsening problems include extreme drought; intense storms and flooding; heat waves and wildfires; loss of biodiversity and natural habitat; soil erosion and depletion of organic nutrients; dwindling aquifers at emergency levels; toxic pollution of waterways due to agrochemicals  and concentrated animal feeding operations.

American farmers are struggling with declining profitability, the environmental challenges just outlined, and counterproductive policies that make it difficult to initiate critical changes that will help them provide healthy food for the nation, maintain resilient and profitable farms, and restore the soil as a natural ally in fighting increasing extreme weather events and protecting our natural resources.

American consumers care about the product (nutritious food), the producer (farmers and ranchers), and the environment (natural resources of water, soil, and air–all increasingly at risk), as well as health, and sustaining the quality of life for their children and grandchildren. American agriculture is at the heart of all these concerns.

The 2023 Farm Bill offers an opportunity to increase farmers’ capacity to restore water quality, improve public and environmental health, produce more nutritious food with greater profitability, and mitigate the effects of climate change by absorbing and storing carbon in the ground and in trees and plants where it can enrich the soil.

Agroforestry involves growing trees and crops together on the same land. The trees provide shade or protection from wind and may produce wood, biomass for bioenergy, fruits and nuts, or fodder for grazing animals. Tree canopies intercept raindrops and the leaf litter on the soil surface reduces raindrop impact and soil detachment. Trees also reduce wind speed near the soil surface, which results in less wind erosion. Trees provide habitats for wildlife, increasing biodiversity, filtering water, and protecting waterways from runoff. Biodiverse agroecosystems can significantly reduce the need for and cost of herbicides due to the increased number of pollinators and the reduction of pests as compared to agricultural monocultures.

Including agroforestry as a central element of conservation practices in the 2023 Farm Bill and increasing resources for it would help ensure a just, resilient, and sustainable future. Policy recommendations that support expanding agroforestry would promote the integration of trees into the agriculture industry, resulting in healthier soil and agricultural sustainability. Increased organic matter in improved soil is better able to retain moisture, resulting in higher productivity and reduced flooding. Agroforestry surpasses even the most aggressive climate-mitigating annual crops in their capacity to store carbon by a factor of 2 to 5 time

Contributors: Karen Daiter, Christine Dannhausen-Brun, Patty Iverson, Pamela Tate, Donna Twickler

Read the entire document here.

Regenerative Agriculture News

Westchester's Grassroots Green Garden Group, September 26, 2022

On Monday, September 26, Westchester’s Grassroots Green Garden Group was a receptive audience to a Regenerative Agriculture and Gardening presentation. Several members’ gardens already contained native plantings, composters for both food and garden waste, and they were already aware of many of the benefits RA could provide in their home gardens. We discussed Doug Tallamy’s vision of a Home Grown National Garden that each of us can help to create in our backyards to  create native-planting corridors to provide continuous habitats for pollinators like the monarch butterfly. 

This amazing group is committed to beautifying Westchester, but they are also assisting community residents with events such as a garden sale, the proceeds of which went to the food pantry. 

Climate Reality Chicago Metro Chapter RA Team Joins RA Coalition to Form Proposals for 2023 Farm Bill, September 25, 2022

By Don  Viecelli

The Climate Reality Project Regenerative Agriculture Coalition is a new group of Chapters and Members that are focused on supporting climate-smart Regenerative Agriculture (RA) practices in the new 2023 Farm Bill. Our goal is to lobby the Agriculture Committee Members and members of Congress to support regenerative practices in the 2023 Farm Bill for passage. We are asking for support from our Climate Reality Project organization to initiate a CRP national campaign this fall to advocate for regenerative practices in the 2023  Farm Bill.

Several CRP Chapters around the United States have Regenerative Agriculture-focused committees or members working on Nature-Based Solutions, of which RA is a critical part. The RA Coalition members have drafted RA Policy Recommendations for the 2023 Farm Bill to urge Congress to convince policy leaders and legislators to adopt the policy changes we believe are needed to incentivize farmers to embrace regenerative agriculture farming practices. These approaches will improve soil health, which in turn will greatly increase carbon sequestration to mitigate climate change while conserving water, increasing nutrient density in food crops and making farmers more resilient and profitable.

The policy proposals have been shared with other RA organizations in the hope of joining forces in our efforts to push for RA support in the 2023 Farm Bill. As a result of these efforts, Climate Realiy Chicago Metro Chapter has become a coalition partner with Regenerate America in their efforts to transform the 2023 FArm Bill. 

Regenerative Agriculture and Food Waste Presentation for the Elmwood Garden Club By CRP – Chicago Metro Members Dorelle Ackermann and Patty Iverson, September 8, 2022 

By Dorelle Ackermann

On September 8th at the Elmwood Public Library, Dorelle Ackermann and Patty Iverson had the pleasure of presenting to the Elmwood Garden Club.  The presentation began with a brief description of how our warming climate is creating extreme floods and droughts that have been particularly devastating to farmers.  The focus pivoted quickly to solutions that are of special interest to gardeners.  These included reducing food waste, plant based diets and composting.  We offered suggestions on food storage, understanding what is meant by sell-by dates, and how composting can be done at home to reduce methane from landfills. The highlight of the presentation was the regenerative agriculture section which detailed how important this solution is to carbon sequestration.  That educational part of the presentation was then tied to local gardening when Patty shared her own backyard journey with native plants, organic vegetable raised bed gardens, and even her experience with “No Mow May”.  Garden club members were very enthusiastic and shared their experiences with creating planter boxes of natives in their community, 

RA Team Works With Coalition to Prepare to Lobby for the 2023 Farm Bill, August 25, 2022

By Pam Tate

The Regenerative Agriculture (RA) Team has been working for over a year on honing our policy ideas and recommendations for the reauthorization of the Farm Bill, which will come up in 2023 in Congress.  We already have a draft of a policy documentthat we have shared with people in our chapter and beyond, and are hoping to attract more of our members to the cause.

One of the reasons we believe that RA is so important to the climate crisis is that soil and trees are significant carbon “sinks”; that is, they absorb carbon from the atmosphere, use it for photosynthesis, and store it, as long as we don’t cut down the trees or plow up the soil.  In order to reach zero emissions on our planet, we will need both the reduction of emissions and the increase in carbon
drawdown—neither of the solutions will be totally effective on its own.

Currently, the RA team is reaching out to other Climate Reality Chapters around the country to form a Climate Reality lobbying effort for getting more incentives, subsidies and actual dollars for RA into the 2023Farm Bill.  We are  also reviewing the policy change recommendations from other organizations such as 350.org, Regenerate America, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the American Farmland Trust and the National Family Farm Coalition so that we can come forward with the most realistic and promising policy recommendations as welaunch the  lobbying effort.  Some of the  policies we are advocating for include:  increasing subsidies and incentives for regenerative farmers; expanding and reforming farm insurance subsidies; establishing soil health testing requirements; and increasing nutrient value in our food supply (which would come from more
healthy soil).  Other policy recommendations are being reviewed and may be added within the next month, with the hope that we can begin our advocacy effort in September after Congress
returns from its August recess.

Elmhurst Garden Walk & Fair, July 7, 2022

Scott Reed and Patty Iverson met enthusiastic environmentalists on Sunday, 7/10 at the Elmhurst Garden Walk & Fair that was hosted by the Elmhurst Garden Club. Nonstop visitors to the booth were expanding and sharing their knowlege of Regenerative Agriculture in practices implemented on farms and in yards. Many told of how they were currently or had already transformed their yards into native habitats. Quite a few also had vegetable gardens to reduce their carbon footprint and grow more nutrient-dense produce. All were invigorated to hear of the wonderful solution RA WILL be for climate change and were excited to hear their native gardens were sequesstering carbon. All were delighted to receive  affirmation of their efforts to nurture and protect the environment.

Elmhurst Cool Cities Plants Demonstration Native Garden, June 25, 2022

On Saturday, June 25, Regenerative Agriculture Team member Patty Iverson joined volunteers from Elmhurst Cool Cities to collaborate with the Elmhurst Park District in planting a demonstration native garden adjacent to the Conservatory at Wilder Park.  Michelle Karabetsos, Assistant Horticulturist, selected and designed the layout of the gardens of which volunteers from Elmhurst Cool Cities  assisting in the planting. Michelle answered all of the questions regarding planting natives at home and the volunteers brought a lot of experience transforming their own gardens to natvie perennial species. “Native plants are great for nature and for gardeners. They provide food for pollinators and habitat for wildlife, while also needing less water and maintenance to thrive.”

Elmhurst Farmers’ Market, June 15, 2022

Patty Iverson was joined by Leah Sorini and Mary Rice at a table where we presented on Regenerative Agriculture at the Elmhurst Farmers’ Market on Wednesday, June 1 and June 15. Visitors were happy to hear about ways to go regenerative and to take home butterfly weed seeds.  We were inspired by the hard work farmers need to do to prepare for and drive to the markets long before the sun comes up. 

Regenerative Agriculture and Electrification at Oak Park Farmers Market, May 21&28, 2022.

On Saturday, May 21 and May 28, Patty Iverson, Scott Reed, and Jelena Collins tabled at the Oak Park Farmers Market on Regenerative Agriculture, Electrication, Recycling, and Communmity Solar. It was really inspiring to be surrounded by so many farmers, like Chad Nichols and Bob Ellis who have already implemented several regenerative agriculture practices.  We were visited by many Oak Park residents who were very knowledgeable about climate change and were encouraged to hear practices they could use and greener items they could substitute at home to use less energy and materials, help to sequester carbon, and to lead healthier lives.

The Green Garden Fair in Elmurst, May 7, 2022

Patty Iverson and Trinity Pierce of Morton Arboretum tabled together at the Elmhurst Green Garden Fair on May 7. Enthusiastic fair-goers asked so many good questions regarding implementation of regnerative agriculture at home and what types of trees would be best for their property. Presenters discussed how to Start In Your Yard with tips from Doug Tallamy’s book Nature’s Best Hope, sold raw local honey and vegan baked goods, gifted locally produced organic compost, and distributed native and organic plants that had been purchased.sold organically-grown vegetables, herb, and flower seedlings. The Citizens Climate Lobby had information regarding carbon taxing. 

RA Group Meets With Dr. Elaine Ingham and Kim Martin of Soil Food Web to Discuss 2023 Farm Bill, January 10, 2022

On Mon., Jan. 10, 2022, the RA Team met with Elaine Ingham and Kim Martin of Soil Food Web. In our efforts to get assistance for farmers to transition to regenerative agriculture, we’re focusing on introducing components to the 2023 Farm Bill. We’re seeking advice from Dr. Ingham to help shape our policy suggestions. Dr. Elaine Ingham is a renown soil scientist working at the University of Illinois Ag Extension who has also founded the Soil Food Web, providing knowledge and instruction in regenerative agriculture to farmers all over the world. Kim Martin, a leader at Soil Food Web and a retired farmer, was able to provide information from her experiences in the  transition to RA practices. We are thankful for their assistance in helping us understand RA from a soil science perspective and in developing a policy framework.

Resources/Articles on Regenerative Agriculture