American ranchers are on the frontline of extreme weather events attributed to climate change. The new administration sees them as playing a pivotal role in tackling the problem.
A fresh focus on climate change
When the Biden administration rejoined the Paris climate agreement and committed to cutting carbon emissions, many ranchers were concerned about what it would mean for their operation. That’s no great surprise: while agriculture is only responsible for around 10 percent of emissions, the cattle industry in particular often becomes a scapegoat in conversations about carbon pollution.
At the same time, there is a broadening consensus among ranchers about the need to address climate change. From the 2019 floods in the Midwest and this year’s brutal winter storm in the south, through to drought and fire in the western United States, ranchers know better than most the effects of an unpredictable climate.
Last year, then-presidential candidate Joe Biden’s Plan for Rural America set the ambitious goal of making America the first country in the world to achieve net-zero emissions in agriculture. He promised to help ranchers “develop new income streams as they tackle the challenge of sequestering carbon, reducing emissions, and continue their track record as global leaders in agricultural innovation.”
During his Senate confirmation hearing, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack emphasized the importance of getting producers on board. “Agriculture is probably the first and best way to begin getting some wins in this climate area,” he said. “I think farmers are prepared for it; farmers are anxious to do it. If it’s voluntary, if it’s market-based, if it’s incentive-based, I think you will see farmers, ranchers, and producers cooperate extensively.”
With effective goal setting, you can do so much more than just get by on a month-to-month basis. It helps you weather financial storms caused by unpredictable seasons. It means that you can plan for prolonged pressures caused by droughts or market failures. And it allows you to see the bigger picture as you work towards a long-term goal, which might be anything from establishing your operation as the producer of America’s finest Wagyu beef through to securing the financial future of your ranch for generations to come.
Getting started with ranch business goal setting
Regenerative agriculture, which involves practices such as managed grazing and cover cropping, builds organic matter back into the soil and draws more carbon out of the atmosphere. Independently minded ranchers and farmers led the regenerative movement, but in the last few years, corporations such as General Mills, Danone, and Kellogs have encouraged its uptake. With the government signaling support for regenerative agriculture, it has well and truly gone mainstream.
Secretary Vilsack has outlined how funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Commodity Credit Corporation will promote a shift in agricultural management. “It is a great tool for us to create the kind of structure that will inform future farm bills about what will encourage carbon sequestration, what will encourage precision agriculture, what will encourage soil health and regenerative agricultural practices,” he said.
Secretary Vilsack emphasized how improving soil health was a vital goal. “Our soil is precious, We need to make sure we’re investing in soil health, and we also frankly need to up our game on research,” he said. “There are ways in which root systems of crops can potentially be designed in a way that will sequester more carbon.”
What does it mean for your ranch?
Secretary Vilsack has pledged to work closely with farmers and ranchers to develop carbon markets to benefit producers over investors. He has also indicated an intention to reward ranchers who use regenerative agriculture to improve soil health and encourage carbon sequestration.
While detailed plans may be months away, now is the ideal time to learn more about regenerative agriculture. It is also the perfect time to review your whole operation and consider the role regenerative agriculture could play (or already does play) in your ranch’s financial future. Adopting practices that fall under the umbrella of regenerative agriculture can make you eligible for a range of value-added programs that you may or may not already be benefitting
AgriWebb and regenerative agriculture
If you consider adopting regenerative agriculture practices, AgriWebb ranch management software can make the transition an easier one. AgriWebb streamlines record keeping and encourages the efficient use of resources, meaning less impact on the environment. It also makes it simple to manage complex grazing systems – such as rotational grazing – which may be a part of your regenerative farming practices.
To find out how AgriWebb can help you implement your management plans, schedule your free demo today.