Foodprints for the Future
Ten by Earth Day 2021: Support Regenerative Agriculture to Restore the Planet
August 14, 2020
The legacy of the first Earth Day in 1970 is rooted in the sweeping environmental laws and regulations that resulted, many of which are under threat today. In honor of the 50th anniversary, and now with less than 90 days until the November elections, Earth Day Network is rolling out the policy initiatives we want to see within the first 100 days of the next Administration, by Earth Day 2021.
This blog is the third in our series and focuses on regenerative agriculture and our dire and urgent need to repair the health of our soils, food systems and communities.
American agriculture faces a trifecta of potentially devastating challenges. As a result of over farming, development and other factors, soil capacity is dramatically declining, with some experts predicting only less than 60 harvests remaining. The United States is losing soil 10 times faster than it is replenished. The average American farmer is nearly 60 years old, and young people are not choosing farming as their profession. Ownership of large-scale farms — where most of the food and agricultural pollution comes from — is increasingly concentrated in the hands of industrial or foreign producers who tend to value short-term profits over the long-term health of our land and people.
Earth Day Network strongly supports regenerative farming as a solution to transform farmers into environmental and societal heroes. Regenerative agriculture promotes the health of degraded soils by restoring their organic carbon and sequesters atmospheric carbon dioxide, reversing industrial agriculture’s contributions to climate change. Regenerative practices such as no-till farming and cover cropping reduce erosion and water pollution, in turn producing healthier soils. We are already seeing a new generation of regenerative farmers looking to heal many systemic racism and equity issues associated with U.S. farming’s brutal history.
Solutions such as creating a certified regenerative agriculture label based on soil health standards and social justice are a step in the right direction. Earth Day Network believes that it is imperative that we implement a holistic set of farming practices that will address global warming by building healthy soils. Additionally, through strong regional farmer training programs and peer-to-peer networks demonstrating profitable models, farmers can receive support for transitioning to regenerative agriculture.
Regenerative farming has been endorsed by brands, environmentalists, wheat producers, cattle ranchers and fruit and vegetable growers. Since almost 40 percent of farms operate on leased lands, we need buy-in from landlords as well. We must move our whole country, at the national level and with strong policy initiatives, to champion agriculture that will be sustainable for decades to come.
Earth Day Network’s Foodprints for the Future campaign educates and raises awareness about climate change and unsustainable agriculture, mobilizes communities to eat locally and reduce their meat consumption and drives the message of the impact animal agriculture has on our health and the planet. Sign up for Foodprints for the Future to advocate for regenerative agriculture in your community.