Monocropping corn and soybeans is not the future.
Updated: Nov 15, 2021
We need more diverse systems of agriculture that can revive and replenish our soils.
The food system in the United States is a complex, global supply chain that circles the planet. It’s complicated, and I’ve spent years trying to figure it out. The most difficult question for me is this: How do we create a just and fair system that pays farmers and farm workers a livable wage, and still keep food affordable?
“Here is a truism about farming in this global food system; if a multinational food corporation can grow a pepper cheaper in Mexico or Peru, that’s what they’re going to do. It’s just business..”
We need to bring this food production back home, and implement regenerative growing practices that will give farmers a chance to make a decent living. The U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said that it will be impossible to reach the goals set in the Paris Climate Accords by just reducing emissions—we must also capture carbon from the atmosphere and return it to the soil..
The way we sequester carbon is using regenerative farming practices such as cover crops in winter, crop rotation, reduced till or no-till farming, and rotational grazing strategies for livestock, which means getting them out of confined animal feeding operations (CAFO’s). The secret to climate change is right beneath our feet. It’s healthy soil with lots of organic matter.
These regenerative and sustainable practices rebuild soil health by increasing organic matter and microbial life while it improves the soils capacity to hold water and reduces erosion. Healthier soils also help farmers fight the effects of climate change, such as drought and extreme rains. Unfortunately, only about six percent of farms in the US use cover crops. That must change.