Biden’s climate change strategy looks to pay farmers to curb carbon footprint
President Joe Biden has called on U.S. farmers to lead the way in offsetting greenhouse gas emissions to battle climate change — a goal fourth generation cattle rancher Loren Poncia set out to achieve over a decade ago.
Despite working in the beef sector, a big contributor to global warming, Poncia has transformed his Northern California ranch into one of the few carbon-positive livestock operations in the country.
“It’s a win-win — for the environment and for our pocketbook,” said Poncia, who adopted carbon farming practices through a partnership with the Marin Carbon Project.
Experts estimate that farmers across the world can sequester a large enough portion of carbon through regenerative agriculture practices to avert the worst impacts of climate change. Research suggests removing carbon already in the atmosphere and replenishing soil worldwide could result in a 10% carbon drawdown. The United Nations has warned that efforts to curb global emissions will fall short without drastic changes in global land use and agriculture.
Poncia’s ranch sequesters more carbon than it emits through practices like rotational cattle grazing systems that allow soil and grass to recover, applying compost instead of chemical fertilizers to pastures to avoid tilling, building worm farms and planting chicory to aerate the soil. Such climate-friendly projects have allowed Poncia to grow more grass and produce more beef.
“If we as a world are going to reverse the damage that’s been done, it’ll be through agriculture and food sustainability,” Poncia said. “We’re excited and positive about the future.”
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