Step Aside Agribusiness, It’s Time for Real Solutions to the Climate Crisis

This week’s UN Climate Action Summit will be tricky for agribusiness CEOs. With forest fires raging in the Amazon, a damning new report about the food system by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and millions of young people out in streets clamouring to shut down fossil fuels and factory farming, it will be hard for the world’s largest food and agribusiness companies to get away with another round of voluntary pledges to reduce their gigantic emissions.

At the last UN summit on climate, held five years ago in New York, agribusiness dazzled everyone with two initiatives on deforestation and agriculture, both of which are now in shambles.

Their initiative on deforestation, a New York Declaration on Forests, championed by the world’s largest buyer of palm oil, Unilever, was supposed to put a major dent in tropical deforestation. Instead, rates of tree cover loss have soared, the Amazon is in flames, and those trying to defend forests from agribusiness companies are being killed in record numbers. Now we are learning that the Brazilian Cerrado, a biodiversity hot spot on par with the Amazon and one of the main frontiers for agribusiness expansion, is also burning at a record rate. Agribusiness is responsible, but so are the big global financial firms that having been buying up vast swaths of Cerrado lands and converting them to mega-farms, such as the Swedish national pension fundBlackstone and the Harvard University endowment.

The other initiative at the last summit, a Global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture, was the handiwork of Yara, the world’s top nitrogen fertiliser producer and one of the planet’s worst emitters of greenhouse gases. It was the fertiliser industry’s PR response to the growing movement for a real climate solution based on fertiliser-free agroecological farming. The trick worked, for a while. Global production of nitrogen fertiliser rose steadily over the next few years. But the most recent IPCC report pointed to nitrogen fertilisers as one of the most dangerous and underestimated contributors to the climate crisis, and new research is showing that the industry has vastly underestimated its own emissions.

Right now, climate activists are mobilising in Germany for the first mass climate action against Yara and the fertiliser industry. They are targeting Yara because of its multi-million euro lobbying efforts to green-wash industrial agriculture, which they say is one of the main drivers of the climate breakdown.

The big meat and dairy companies are also in trouble. These companies, such as Tyson, Nestlé and Cargill, have emissions levels that approximate their counterparts in the fossil fuel industry. The top 20 meat and dairy companies emit more greenhouse gases than Germany, Europe’s biggest climate polluter. But none of these companies have credible action plans to reduce their emissions and only 4 of the top 35 companies are even reporting their emissions! Instead of taking meaningful action to cut back on production, several companies have been making a lot of noise about their minor investments in plant-based alternatives. People are not being fooled. On the eve of last week’s global climate strike, more than 200 representatives of Indigenous Peoples, workers, academia, environmental and human rights groups adopted a landmark declaration that singled out the “fossil fuel industry and large-scale agribusiness” for “being at the core of the destruction of our climate”.

Big food and agribusiness companies are desperate to portray themselves as part of the solution. But there is no way to reconcile what’s needed to heal our planet with their unflinching commitment to growth. We cannot address the climate crisis if these companies are allowed to keep on sourcing, processing and selling ever more agricultural commodities, be it meat, milk, palm oil or soybeans. Their massive supply chains are what drives the food system’s catastrophic emissions—which the IPCC now says stands at up to 37% of global human-made GHG emissions.

Yet, if we look beyond the public relations of Big Food and Ag we will see that there are plenty of real solutions that can feed the planet perfectly well. All kinds of alternatives are flourishing, especially in the global South, where small farmers and local food systems still supply up to 80% of the food people eat. The industrial food system only exists today because of the support it gets from governments which march in lockstep with corporate lobbyists. Public subsidies, trade deals, tax breaks and corporate-friendly regulations are all designed to prop up the big food and agribusiness companies—and facilitate the growing criminalisation of affected communities, land defenders and seed savers resisting these corporations on the ground. We urgently need to send agribusiness out of the room and demand that governments shift support to small food producers and local markets which would actually save us from planetary collapse.

 

Posted with permission from Common Dreams

Listen to the Farmers

“If you want to know what creativity and courage look like in America, talk to a farmer . . . it is time we listen to them when they tell us that now is the time for creativity and courage and action.” – Rep. Jim McGovern, speaking at the launch of the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers for a Green New Deal press conference, September 18, 2019

Last month, a United Nations report prepared by more than 100 experts from 52 countries warned of a looming global food crisis if we don’t hurry up and address global warming by ending the exploitation of the world’s land and water resources.

The solution, according to the experts? Change the way we produce food and manage land.

But how do we do that? When the biggest exploiters of our resources—the agribusiness and chemical giants—have access to a bottomless pit of money they can use to influence the people who write our food and farming policies?

We do it by building a grassroots lobbying force too powerful to be ignored.

And we do it by putting the farmers and ranchers who are ready to produce food and manage land regeneratively in the driver’s seat.

Help us keep up the momentum. Your donation today will help power a national coalition of U.S. Farmers and Ranchers who will fight for a healthier food and farming system.

Last week, five members of Congress, along with several farmers, and members of Regeneration International, the Sunrise Movement, Organic Consumers Association and other farmer-rancher organizations stood in front of the U.S. Capitol to announce the formation of the national coalition of U.S. Farmers and Ranchers for a Green New Deal.

Earlier that day, we delivered a letter, signed by more than 525 individual farmers and ranchers, and about 50 organizations representing more than 10,000 farmers and ranchers, asking Congress to support a Green New Deal for farmers and ranchers. 

The press conference in Washington, D.C. was just the start. Now the hard work begins.

Help us keep up the momentum. Your donation today will help power a national coalition of U.S. Farmers and Ranchers who will fight for a healthier food and farming system.

Call these farmers regenerative, organic, biodynamic, agroecological . . . whatever specific practices they’re using to restore soil health, keep your water clean, build strong local food systems, and produce pesticide-free nutrient-rich food, these are the farmers who care about the land and water and animals they manage.

These farmers and ranchers aren’t looking for handouts.

They just want Congress to stop spending billions of dollars to subsidize corporate polluters who produce contaminated food.

They want a level playing field.

In the coming months and year, the farmers and ranchers in this coalition will form a speakers bureau. They will fan out into their local communities, where they’ll talk to consumers, to other farmers, to local and state lawmakers.

They will build powerful alliances with environmental and social and economic justice organizations.

They will invite members of Congress out to their farms and ranches, to see for themselves how regenerative farming and grazing restores wildlife habitats and builds healthy soils that store carbon and capture and hold precious rainfall.

And they will travel to Washington to hold hearings on Capitol Hill, to personally meet with members of Congress, to lobby for laws that will empower them to be good stewards of the land, while also allowing them to make a decent living.

And every law these farmers and ranchers will lobby for, will be a law that benefits you.

If you value clean air, clean water and healthy food, if you care about the environment, if you care about social and economic justice, these farmers and ranchers will be working for you.

But they’ll need your help.

Help us keep up the momentum. Your donation today will help power a national coalition of U.S. Farmers and Ranchers who will fight for a healthier food and farming system.

Don’t Go Vegan to Save the Planet. You Can Help by Being a Better Meat-Eater.

There are millions of self-described vegans in the United States; recent estimates suggest they are up to 3% of the population and possibly more. They have a host of reasons for justifying their animal-free diets. For one, they argue, animal husbandry is brutal and cruel toward animals; two, they claim that animal farming is ruinous to the environment.

Vegans are not precisely wrong about all of this, but they’re only half-right. It is true that industrial animal farming is ecologically destructive, that it is cruel and barbarous, and that many if not most of the animals unlucky enough to be a part of it suffer in ways that are difficult to comprehend. All of this is well-documented and undeniable.

But it doesn’t necessarily follow that you have to go vegan. If you’re uncomfortable with animal farming, but are unwilling to adopt the vegan lifestyle, you don’t need to stop eating meat. You just need to eat better meat.

 

KEEP READING ON USA TODAY

Corporate Agribusiness Is Blocking Important Action on the Climate

Climate change action plans often call for less fossil fuel usage, reduced carbon dioxide emissions and a shift toward renewable energy sources. But one area that hasn’t received the broader attention it deserves is industrial farming.

The latest report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) determined that the turning over of more and more land to commercial agriculture has resulted in increasing net greenhouse gas emissions, the loss of natural ecosystems and declining biodiversity. And so, “sustainable land management can contribute to reducing the negative impacts of multiple stressors, including climate change,” the report finds.

This IPCC offering followed on the heels of the National Academies of Sciences study into negative emissions technologies and carbon sequestration, which also found that efforts to store more carbon in agricultural soils generally have “large positive side benefits,” including increased productivity, water holding capacity and yield stability.

KEEP READING ON TRUTHOUT

Why I’m Paying Farmers to Convert to Biodynamic Cotton

When you think about curbing pollution, taking aim at the clothes in your closet is probably not high up on the list. But the textiles industry is one of the most polluting on the planet. New trends and “ultrafast fashion” has clothing entering popular clothing stores on a weekly or even daily basis.

As a result, Americans have increased how much clothing they buy, with the average person bringing home more than 65 articles of clothing in 2016, according to the “Toxic Textiles” report by Green America.1 Where clothing was once valued for durability and practicality, we’re living in an age where people feel pressured to keep up with clothing trends, at the expense of quality and the environment. Green America noted:2

“[S]ocial media has led to a new trend of ultra-fast fashion — where companies are able to design, manufacture, and sell hundreds of products mere weeks after the initial conception of design, thanks to a large network of local and international factories.

KEEP READING ON MERCOLA

$1M a Minute: The Farming Subsidies Destroying the World – Report

The public is providing more than $1m per minute in global farm subsidies, much of which is driving the climate crisis and destruction of wildlife, according to a new report.

Just 1% of the $700bn (£560bn) a year given to farmers is used to benefit the environment, the analysis found. Much of the total instead promotes high-emission cattle production, forest destruction and pollution from the overuse of fertiliser.

The security of humanity is at risk without reform to these subsidies, a big reduction in meat eating in rich nations and other damaging uses of land, the report says. But redirecting the subsidies to storing carbon in soil, producing healthier food, cutting waste and growing trees is a huge opportunity, it says.

The report rejects the idea that subsidies are needed to supply cheap food. It found that the cost of the damage currently caused by agriculture is greater than the value of the food produced. New assessments in the report found producing healthy, sustainable food would actually cut food prices, as the condition of the land improves.

KEEP READING ON THE GUARDIAN

Land Restoration in Latin America Shows Big Potential for Climate Change Mitigation

Land restoration in Latin America and the Caribbean is picking up pace and scaling up projects will help the region meet its pledges under the Bonn Challenge, which aims to restore 350 million hectares of degraded and deforested land worldwide by 2030. A new study led by the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and Wageningen University supplies a first map of restoration projects in Latin America and shows their potential to mitigate climate change through restoring forests.

Researchers took stock of the location, goals and activities of 154 projects in Latin America and the Caribbean, starting a database to guide practitioners in scaling up restoration. They mapped projects under five initiatives working towards the Bonn Challenge goals – the 20×20 Initiative, the Global Environment Facility, the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), the Forest Investment Program (FIP) and independent local projects – in tandem with mapping the potential biomass increase that forest restoration could achieve across the region’s various ecosystems.

KEEP READING ON EUREKALERT

The Inga Foundation: Changing Lives in a Revolutionary Way

Mike Hands of the Inga Foundation, a Regeneration International (RI) partner, works in Honduras with slash-and-burn farmers who average 20 acres (eight hectares) of land holdings. That’s considerably larger than most slash-and-burn farms, which Mike estimates are no bigger than five acres (two hectares). 

If you use that two-hectare figure as a benchmark, and multiply it by the 300 million slash-and-burn farms worldwide, you’ve got 1.5 billion acres. That’s a lot of slash-and-burn acreage—acreage that with better farming practices, could be turned into carbon-sequestering farms.

According to Hands, converting from slash and burn to the Inga Foundation’s Guama (Spanish for inga tree) farming method sequesters about 35 tons of carbon per acre per year over a 12-year period.

Multiply that by 1.5 billion acres, and if every slash-and-burn farm worldwide were to convert to the Inga Foundation’s Guama model, it could sequester as much as 52.5 billion tons (gigatons) of CO2 over a 12-year period.

According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, one gigaton of carbon sequestration lowers atmospheric carbon levels by almost .5 parts per million. 

So, if all slash-and-burn farmers worldwide were to switch to the Inga Foundation’s Guama model, it would be enough to lower the world’s perilously high carbon level of 400 parts-per-million (ppm) by about 25 ppm, to about 375 ppm, bringing us that much closer to the level of 350 ppm that 350.org is calling for in order to stabilize the world’s climate. 

Clearly, the Inga Foundation is on to something.

The Guardian newspaper seems to think so. It ranked Mike Hands #44 on a list of the 100 most important people for saving the world—ahead of such luminaries as Henry David Thoreau, Mahatma Gandhi, Charles Darwin and the Dalai Lama. That’s pretty heady company.

The Inga Foundation is active in Costa Rica, the Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Madagascar and the U.K.. But the foundation’s biggest project is in Honduras, where it’s working with 300 family farmers. That’s a far cry from 250 million. But it’s a start. And it’s growing. 

When I spoke with Mike from his base in the U.K., he said Honduran farmers who have seen the crop yields of their Guama-employing neighbors are lining up to learn Guama techniques and to get Inga Foundation help with getting started—especially in the wake of a major 2016 storm that caused widespread flooding and literally washed away the farms of many non-Guama slash-and-burn farmers. 

Slash-and-burn farms tend to be on hillsides, often steep hillsides, where rough terrain, difficult access and vulnerability to washout makes the land less desirable and lessens competition for the land. All of these factors combine to offer at least some degree of protection from the large and expanding palm oil biofuel plantations that often use violence and even murder to displace farmers on the coastal plains of Honduras.

But those advantages come at a cost, and when Guama-employing farmers bounced back from the 2016 storm and a devastating drought that followed the storm, their neighbors took notice, and interest in the Inga Foundation’s methods spiked.

The Guama basics are not hugely complicated. You plant rows of Inga trees—which have extensive, shallow and fast-growing roots systems—between rows of crops, in a method known as alley cropping. This increases soil retention, especially in the face of challenges such as intense rain, droughts and hurricanes. Then you supplement soil nutrition with decomposing foliage of the Inga trees and with mineral supplements, most importantly rock phosphate—not regular, standard phosphate, which washes away much more quickly.

Slash-and-burn is hard on farmers because the land it clears loses soil nutrition so fast that farmers have to clear new lands every 5-7 years. That’s hard work. It disrupts families and family life. And the endless search for new lands to clear and cultivate brings farmers into sometimes violent conflict with other farmers, landowners and indigenous peoples.

Plus every time farmers slash and burn an hectare of land (2.5 acres), at least 100 tons of carbon are released into the atmosphere, according to Mike Hands. And right now the world is watching in horror as this process is being played out—and accelerating—in the Amazon rainforests of Brazil and Bolivia, particularly in Brazil, where the new far-right government of Jair Bolsonaro is turning a blind eye to, or even encouraging, what is often land theft and subsequent illegal burning.

It’s a long way from the Inga Foundation’s 300 families to the global figure of 250 million slash-and-burn farmers. Not surprisingly, Hands says the biggest challenge to the Inga Foundation’s growth is funding. And government bureaucracies aren’t helping either. In Honduras, a Foundation shipment of 18,800 kilos of rock phosphate has been held up in customs since 2017. And the customs and storage fees keep rising, making eventual release of the rock phosphate less and less likely and further and further out of reach.

Despite all the challenges facing the Inga Foundation, Mike Hands is optimistic. “The Guama Model is changing lives and livelihoods in a revolutionary way,”Mike told me. “We estimate that families in our Land for Life Program have planted over 3 million trees since 2012.” 

That sounds like a pretty good start.

Lawrence Reichard is a freelance journalist. To keep up with news and events, sign up here for the Regeneration International newsletter.

Best Way to Remove Carbon: Sequestering It in Its Natural Sinks

There is one thing that worries climate scientists universally: the positive feedback loop. This is a process where changing one quantity changes the second one, and the change in the second quantity, in turn, changes the first. Scientists fear a positive feedback loop may spiral the climate crisis out of control.

Desertification is an example of a positive feedback loop, just as the melting of the Arctic ice cap, thawing of the Siberian permafrost, and the large-scale release of methane from methane hydrate lying on the sea and ocean floors.

The climate crisis is causing desertification and, in turn, desertification is exacerbating the crisis. The cycle continues.

Let me explain this, but first a disclaimer: this is an oversimplified version of an extremely complex process.

KEEP READING ON DOWN TO EARTH

Bernie Sanders’ Green New Deal is a Game-Changer for Food & Farming

The scope of the challenge ahead of us shares similarities with the crisis faced by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the 1940s. Battling a world war on two fronts—both in the East and the West—the United States came together, and within three short years restructured the entire economy in order to win the war and defeat fascism. As president, Bernie Sanders will boldly embrace the moral imperative of addressing the climate crisis and act immediately to mobilize millions of people across the country in support of the Green New Deal… a wholesale transformation of our society, with support for frontline and vulnerable communities and massive investments in sustainable energy, energy efficiency, and a transformation of our transportation system… [and] our agricultural system to fight climate change, provide sustainable, local foods, and break the corporate stranglehold on farmers and ranchers… providing $200 billion to the Green Climate Fund, rejoining the Paris Agreement, and reasserting the United States’ leadership in the global fight against climate change… reduce domestic emissions by at least 71 percent by 2030 and reduce emissions among less industrialized nations by 36 percent by 2030—the total equivalent of reducing our domestic emissions by 161 percent… [and] Investing in conservation and public lands to heal our soils, forests, and prairie lands…”. – from “The Green New Deal,” Bernie Sanders Campaign, August 22, 2019

Beyond the cesspool of the Trump administration and his fascist allies across the globe, powerful winds of rebellion and regeneration are gathering momentum.

This year will likely be remembered as the time when the U.S. and global grassroots finally began to acknowledge the terminal crisis posed by global warming. With the global scientific community finally dropping their customary caution and pointing out that the “end is near” in terms of irreversible climate change, the mass media, a significant number of global policymakers and hundreds of millions of ordinary people simultaneously began to wake up across the world.

Activist youth in America, led by the Sunrise Movement, supported by a group of radical insurgents in the U.S. Congress, led by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, are leading the new resistance and calling for an end to business as usual—and a Green New Deal.

Ever since the Green New Deal Resolution was introduced in Congress in February, supported by more than100 members of Congress, millions of us have been waiting for a concrete plan of action. Contrary to the standard “go slow/small change” establishment message perpetuated by the mass media, a Yale University poll in April found that an overwhelming 93 percent of Democratic voters (and even a minority of Republicans) support an aggressive plan like the Green New Deal.

Finally, we have a true Declaration of War against fossil fuel pollution and global warming, a radical legislative program that can head off climate catastrophe and supercharge a just transition to a 21st Century Green Commonwealth—thanks to the Green New Deal plan laid out by Vermont Senator and presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders.

Released on August 22, 2019, Bernie’s 67-page GND lays out a comprehensive $16.3-trillion package of policies and government-funded programs, as well as realistic projections on how these new programs will actually pay for themselves over the next 15 years.

The Green New Deal will pay for itself over time by creating massive new revenue streams through increasing employment and income tax revenue ($2.3 trillion) and through selling trillions of kilowatt hours of renewable solar and wind energy every year from new, expanded Federal Power Marketing Administrations ($6.4 trillion), patterned after our current federal hydropower program.

Meanwhile the GND will reduce federal government expenditures by slashing military spending ($1.2 trillion) and reducing government energy costs, among other benefits. Sanders’ plan also calls for “making the fossil fuel industry pay for their pollution, through litigation, fees and taxes, and eliminating federal fossil fuel subsidies… [reducing the] need for federal and state safety-net spending due to the creation of millions of good-paying, unionized jobs… [and] making the wealthy and large corporations pay their fair share.” 

Bernie’s multi-trillion-dollar GND lays out a 10-year strategy to transform the U.S. energy and utilities sector, transitioning from our current levels of 17 percent renewables to 100 percent renewable energy between 2030-2050; creating 20 million well-paid green jobs; forging new foreign relations and cutting back military spending as part of a global cooperation with Russia, China, India, the EU and other nations; and implementing a trillion-dollar program of organic and regenerative (carbon-sequestering) food, farming and land use practices.

Sanders’ manifesto far exceeds what any of the other leading presidential candidates have so far dared to propose. Because Sanders’ GND is essentially a radical plan designed to address a radical societal and global emergency, it has, of course, already generated terabytes of criticism and ridicule from proponents of fossil fuels and “middle of the road, don’t go too fast” politicians and corporations.

Of course as Bernie constantly reminds us, we’ll never be able to implement a system-changing GND without a grassroots-powered ballot-box “political revolution,” starting with the 2020 election cycle and beyond, whereby we elect a pro-GND president and inspire, co-opt or cajole a majority in both the House and the Senate to get behind a GND.

Earlier this year, David Roberts, writing for Vox magazine pointed out the political realities of implementing a Green New Deal:

Here’s the only way any of this works: You develop a vision of politics that puts ordinary people at the center and gives them a tangible stake in the country’s future, a share in its enormous wealth and a role to play in its greater purpose. Then organize people around that vision and demand it from elected representatives. If elected representatives don’t push for it, make sure they get primaried or defeated. If you want bipartisanship, get it because politicians in purple districts and states are scared to cross you, not because you led them to the sweet light of reason.

Four major game-changers in Bernie’s GND

I could write a whole book on this topic, and in fact I have, “Grassroots Rising,” which will be published in January 2020 by Chelsea Green Publishing.

But for now, let’s look at four aspects of Bernie’s GND that make it different—and revolutionary.

No. 1: The GND is a U.S. and global Renewal and Regeneration plan on the scale of a World War II mobilization. The Sanders GND is the only plan in the industrialized world that sets a goal high enough to actually reverse global warming (with significant net negative emissions projected by 2030) and eliminate economic injustice, environmental destruction, deteriorating public health and global poverty and conflict at the same time.

The primary drivers of the plan include a green, high-wage, full-employment renewable energy economy complemented by an agricultural and land-management system with little or no use of fossil fuels and massive natural carbon drawdown and sequestration of excess atmospheric CO2 in our soils, forests and wetlands. This Great Transition will be financed by a multi-trillion-dollar infusion of public funds ($15.3 billion over 10 years) that can actually “net zero out” fossil fuel emissions in the short timeframe we have left (2019-2030) before our current climate crisis morphs into runaway global warming and climate catastrophe.

While Elizabeth Warren, Jay Inslee, Beto O’Rourke, Kamala Harris, Joe Biden, Tim Ryan, Tulsi Gabbert, Marianne Williamson, and others have spoken out on the urgent need to solve the climate crisis, none have offered a comparable high-bar plan, nor dared to propose more than a few trillion dollars over the next decade to fix our Climate Emergency and societal breakdown.

No. 2: Bernie’s GND offers the first realistic assessment and timeline for what needs to be done in the limited timeframe we have left to avoid climate catastrophe, both nationally and internationally. As Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said shortly after she won her Congressional primary election in New York in 2018: “The Green New Deal we are proposing will be similar in scale to the mobilization efforts seen in World War II or the Marshall Plan… Half measures will not work… The time for slow and incremental efforts has long past.”  

Most politicians who acknowledge that there is indeed a climate crisis are still talking in rather vague terms about moving to domestic net-zero emissions by 2050, advocating domestic private and public funding in the billions of dollars, whereas Bernie is talking about trillions in public funds, including $200 billion to help the Global South decarbonize their economies and naturally sequester billions of tons of atmospheric carbon through reforestation and regenerative agriculture.

By allocating massive resources both nationally and internationally, the GND will reduce the U.S. carbon footprint (which includes both the emissions released within our borders and the emissions released overseas to supply us with resources, imports and consumer products) by “the total equivalent of… 161 percent” within a decade. As the Sanders GND emphasizes, we need drastic changes in our foreign policy as well as our domestic policy:

As president, Bernie will provide strong, inclusive American leadership to not only transform our own energy system, but to reach out to countries all over the world and cooperate on the global crisis of climate change. We must recognize that people from every country in the world — Russia, India, China, Japan, Brazil — are all in this together. Instead of accepting that the world’s countries will spend $1.5 trillion annually on weapons of destruction, Bernie will convene global leaders to redirect our priorities to confront our shared enemy: climate change.

No. 3: Focusing on, and providing $841 billion in program money to transform our climate-destructive, corporate/monopoly-controlled, factory-farm food and farming system into an equitable family farm-based, regenerative system of farming and ranching. Bernie’s GND will provide the funding and resources to revitalize rural America and draw down billions of tons of excess CO2 and store it in our soils and pastures, while simultaneously improving food quality, public health, rural livelihoods and quality of life.

Among the unprecedented food, farming and land use components of the GND are:

• $410 billion for farmers and ranchers, including first-time, indigenous, minority and disadvantaged farmers, to avoid or make the transition from chemical, energy-intensive, factory farm methods to “ecologically regenerative,” climate-friendly practices

• $160 billion in payments to farmers and ranchers to sequester and increase soil carbon

• $25 billion for farmland conservation

• $1.25 billion for tribal land access and acquisition

• $1.4 billion in new research and development

• $1.4 billion for renewable energy on farms

• $36 billion to establish a “victory lawns and gardens initiative” to help urban, rural and suburban Americans “transform their lawns into food-producing or reforested spaces that sequester carbon and save water”

• $14 billion to increase the number of co-op grocery stores

• $31 billion to strengthen the infrastructure for on-farm and local food processing

• $160 billion to help states to eliminate food waste and compost organic materials

• $500 million to help farmers get certified as organic, as well as funds to incentivize schools to procure locally produced foods.

Beyond financial subsidies and grants, the GND promises to:

• Use government resources and legal power to enforce anti-trust laws

• Break up big agribusinesses that have a stranglehold on farmers and rural communities

• Ensure farmers are paid a fair price for their products with tools like supply management and grain reserves

• Re-establish and strengthen the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration

• Ensure farmers have the right to repair their own equipment

• Reform patent laws to prevent predatory lawsuits from massive agribusinesses like Bayer/Monsanto

• Reform the agricultural subsidy system so more money goes to small and medium-sized farms

• Strengthen organic standards

• Enforce country-of-origin labeling and allow meat slaughtered at state inspected facilities to be sold across state lines

• Create a pathway to citizenship for migrant farmworkers and improve wages and working conditions and end exclusions for agricultural workers in labor laws

• Invest in historically underserved communities to grow the number of farmers of color.

No. 4: Bernie’s GND doesn’t shy away from the fact that we must fight the power of the fossil fuel corporations, the military-industrial complex, and the economic elite that maintain our degenerate and climate-destructive business as usual. As the Sanders GND states in its introduction:

We need a president who has the courage, the vision and the record to face down the greed of fossil fuel executives and the billionaire class who stand in the way of climate action. We need a president who welcomes their hatred. Bernie will lead our country to enact the Green New Deal and bring the world together to defeat the existential threat of climate change.

The hour is late, but we still have time to turn things around. Our job in 2019 and beyond is to reach out and educate our fellow Americans about the GND and the political revolution that must take place, beginning now. Don’t mourn, organize.

Ronnie Cummins is international director of the Organic Consumers Association and a member of the Regeneration International steering committee. To keep up with RI’s news and alerts, sign up here.