Farm Policy Agenda for Regenerative Farming

Regenerative agriculture has become the new “buzzword” among critics of today’s large-scale, industrial agricultural operations. Its advocates claim that regenerative agriculture could sequester sufficient carbon in soil organic matter to mitigate and potentially reverse global climate change. They point to research and on-farm experience to support their claims. Farm policies proposing to pay farmers to sequester carbon have heightened interest in regenerative farming among farmers as well as agribusinesses. Claims that regenerative agriculture can increase productivity and profitability obviously add to the enthusiasm of farmers.

However, regenerative agriculture is not without its critics. Some soil scientists challenge claims that regenerative farming can capture or retain enough carbon in the soil to mitigate climate change. Others claim the focus should be on selecting, promoting, and perhaps genetic engineering specific crops to sequester carbon, rather than promoting some vaguely defined farming system. The “industrial agricultural establishment” seems to have bought into the concept of “agricultural intensification. They claim that producing more while using less land with fewer polluting inputs is the most effective means of meeting the ecological and food security challenges of the 21st century.

Regenerative agriculture is also being challenged with defensive tactics similar to those faced earlier by organic and sustainable agriculture. The “Real Organic Project” was established in defiance of compromises made by USDA to accommodate industrial production methods in certification of organic production. The concept of sustainable agriculture has been co-opted, redefined, and misused to the extent that some early advocates believe it has become useless. The term regenerative is already being used to promote specific carbon sequestering crops and production practices that can be accommodated without significant changes in industrial farming operations.

Like organic and sustainable farming, regenerative farming does not have a single, precise definition. Carbon Underground defines regenerative agriculture as “an integrated set of land management practices that utilizes plant photosynthesis to sequester carbon, restore soil health, increase crop resilience, and restore the nutrient density of foods.” Lists of regenerative practices typically include reduced reliance on tillage and use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, increased adoption of cover crops, crop rotation and diversification, and management intensive grazing systems.

Internationally, regenerative farming is more likely to be defined as a system of production guided by common principles rather than practices. Rather than focusing on single objectives, such as carbon sequestration, regenerative agriculture has multiple social, economic, and ecological objectives. For example, Terra Genesis International defines regenerative agriculture as “a system of farming principles and practices that increases biodiversity, enriches soils, improves watersheds, and enhances ecosystem services. . .  Regenerative Agriculture aims to reverse global climate change. At the same time, it offers increased yields, resilience to climate instability, and higher health and vitality for farming communities.”

Using this more comprehensive definition, regenerative agriculture must be economically viable as well as ecologically regenerative and socially responsible. However, markets will never provide adequate economic incentives to create sustainable regenerative systems of farming. The upfront economic costs of establishing regenerative farming operations are too high relative to the long-run economic payoff. Markets place heavy discounts on long-run future values relative to upfront present costs. Thus, a transition from industrial to regenerative agriculture will require fundamental changes in farm policies to make it economically feasible for existing, and beginning, farmers to justify the upfront costs of transitioning to, or establishing, regenerative farming systems.

The 2020 presidential campaigns provided compelling evidence of growing political support for such fundamental changes in farm policy. Virtually all of the Democratic candidates promised to address the challenge of climate change and other environmental problems associated with today’s industrial agriculture through farm policies framed in the language of the Green New Deal–a 2019 congressional resolution.  As with the more inclusive definition of regenerative farming, the Green New Deal recognizes that environmental problems are inseparable from the social and economic problems associated with industrial agriculture.

In addition to presidential candidates, various nonprofit organizations and think-tanks have developed political agendas around the principles in the Green New Deal. One such think-tank is Data for Progress, which has developed a Green New Deal Policy Series, that includes Regenerative Farming and the Green New Deal that we co-authored. The following is a brief outline of the farm policies included in this proposal.

1. Reform and eventually phase out current government subsidies of crop and livestock insurance for yields, prices, or gross revenues from specific crops and livestock species.

a. Limit producers’ eligibility for government subsidized crop insurance to commodities produced using approved practices to limit soil erosion, sequester soil carbon, and control pollution of air and water from agricultural chemical or biological wastes.

b. Place limits of total acreage and insurance coverage of all insured crops eligible for government subsidized crop insurance at $250,000 gross farm income or $50,000 net farm revenue per insured farm or insured farm family.

c. Over time, phase out government subsidized crop insurance programs for single crops and all other commodity-based programs, unless accompanied by supply management programs that eliminate incentives for production in excess of needs for domestic food security.

2. Replace current crop and livestock insurance programs with a Whole-Farm Net Revenue Insurance program, implemented through a special tax credit that shares the risks of transitioning from industrial agriculture to regenerative farming systems.

a. The new whole-farm net revenue protection program would reestablish the original concept of “parity” by ensuring a level of net farm revenue sufficient to guarantee farm family incomes on par or at parity with medium non-farm family income in the geographic area of the farm. The current USDA Whole-Farm Revenue Protection (WFRP) program only ensures a percentage of anticipated “gross” farm revenue based on historic farm tax records for insured farms. Insuring a percentage of historic gross farm revenue would not ensure that a farm family could survive a transition to regenerative farming.

b. The new net revenue protection program might be called the Family Farm Transition Program (FFTP) and could be financed through guaranteed “tax credits,” similar to those in current “Earned Income Tax Credits” for low-income taxpayers. If a farm family’s total income falls below the insured level, farmers would get a tax credit from the government to make up the shortfall.

c. The objective of the FFTP would be to ensure long-run domestic food security by absorbing the risks inherent in establishing regenerative family farming operations or transitioning from unsustainable commercial farming operations to sustainable, regenerative full-time family farms. To apply for FFTP protection, farmers would be required to submit a whole-farm plan for establishing or transitioning to sustainable, regenerative whole-farm systems.

d. The primary role of the USDA and state Cooperative Research and Extension Service programs would be to conduct appropriate applied research and to facilitate the development and implementation of regenerative whole-farm plans needed by farmers to qualify for the program.

e. Farm plans would include farming practices similar to the current USDA Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), but all farming practices would be integrated into an approved regenerative whole-farm plan capable of sequestering carbon, rebuilding soil organic, restoring natural productivity and evolving to long-run economic viability. Families would be guaranteed a reasonable time to make the transition and would be assisted by other government programs.

3. Redirect USDA farm programs that currently incentivize and support industrial agriculture to incentivize, support, and prepare current farmers to transition from industrial farming practices to regenerative farming systems.

a. Reward farmers for undertaking practices that enhance ecological functions through government programs such as the Conservation Stewardship Program.

b. Pay farmers to transition marginal croplands to pastures and retire marginal pastures to native prairie, particularly in historic prairie areas.

c. Incentivize pasture intercropping/rotational pasture crop systems in areas of lower yields croplands to reinvigorate them and add income streams.

d. Transition USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Cooperative Research and Extension programs from supporting industrial farming practices to facilitating the development of regenerative whole-farm systems.

e. Increase funding to the USDA Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), and Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and redirect these programs to incentivize and support the transition from industrial agriculture to regenerative farming systems.

f. Establish a joint incentive and education program through the USDA Agricultural Research Center (ARS) and NRCS for the agricultural production and use of compost, biochar, mulch and other organic amendments that improve soil health.

g. Grow the USDA research and development budget for carbon sequestration, soil health, and other regenerative practices as components of regenerative whole-farm systems.


The success or failure of the current regenerative agriculture movement will depend on whether U.S. farm policies are transformed from supporting industrial agriculture to making it economically possible for thoughtful, caring farmers to create and sustain regenerative farming systems. It’s important for consumers to vote with their dollars but it’s essential for citizens to vote and become involved in the processes of governance. The farm and food policies that currently support industrial agriculture can, and eventually must, be shifted to support and sustain regenerative agriculture. Here are a couple of action items we will leave you with so you can make a change:


Roadmap to Regeneration in the United States, 2020–2030

The following is the last chapter of the book, “Grassroots Rising: A Call to Action on Food, Farming, Climate and a Green New Deal,” by Ronnie Cummins.

Read in Spanish here.


“We have the outline of a plan. We need a mass mobilization of people and resources, something not unlike the U.S. involvement in World War II or the Apollo moon missions—but even bigger. We must transform our energy system, transportation, housing, agriculture and more.”

—Stephanie Kelton, Andres Bernal, and Greg Carlock, “We Can Pay for a Green New Deal”

The final months of 2018 will likely be remembered as the time when the United States and global grassroots finally began to awaken to the existential crisis posed by global warming. Part of this great awakening was no doubt due to the fact that violent weather, forest fires, drought, floods, water shortages, crop failures, and unusually prolonged heat and/or cold waves became the “new normal,” striking home in both the Global North and the Global South, falling hardest on the poor and marginalized, but striking fear into the hearts of the middle and upper classes as well.

With international scientists 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 policy makers, and hundreds of millions of ordinary people seemed to simultaneously wake up across the world.

Young climate activists, under the banner of the Sunrise Movement in the United States and the Extinction Rebellion in the UK and other countries, sat in at politicians’ offices and blocked streets and roadways, demanding immediate and bold action. The Sunrise Movement captured headlines and mass public attention by calling for a sweeping change in US federal policy: the Green New Deal. An international school strike, known as Fridays for the Future, initiated in Sweden by high school student Greta Thunberg, has begun to spread globally, with millions of students in over a hundred nations walking out of classes and organizing rallies and protests to demand bold action from their governments to reverse climate change.

But, of course, this great global awakening is just the beginning. As climate action leader Bill McKibben and others have pointed out, we now likely are at the point of our last chance to act on the climate crisis before it’s too late. Here in the United States, we can’t wait one or two more presidential election cycles before we take decisive action. Either we bring about bold economic and policy change, starting immediately, or we are doomed. Either we elect and rally behind insurgent green and social justice leaders and implement sweeping changes, or our global awakening in 2018 will be judged by future generations as too little, too late.

The Green New Deal under Attack

In the United States, the Sunrise Movement and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal (GND), though endorsed by more than a hundred members of Congress, as well as leading 2020 presidential candidates Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, and others, was immediately attacked as “too radical” or “utopian” by both climate-change-denying Republicans and neoliberals and indentured Democrats beholden to Big Oil and corporate agribusiness. In particular, the GND’s proposition of achieving zero emissions by 2030 was dismissed as an impractical and dangerous measure that would wreck the economy and put millions of working-class people out of work.

If you read the GND proposal carefully, the criticism it has received is not justified, but it underlines the importance of being able to clearly explain to the American public and the global body politic exactly what we mean by a full-blown green energy and regenerative economy, with jobs for everyone willing to work and a just transition to net zero emissions by 2030. To gain and maintain majority support for policies such as the GND, we must be able to explain to everyday people not only the basics of reducing fossil fuel use and drawing down carbon through regenerative practices but also, as outlined earlier, how we can readily finance this great transition by increasing today’s outrageously low taxes on the wealthy and large corporations and implementing a full menu of government appropriations, bonds, loan programs, jobs, and infrastructure projects, similar to the New Deal policies of the 1930s and ’40s.

If we can properly explain what net zero emissions (as opposed to zero emissions) and a green economy with decent-paying jobs for all would mean, a critical mass of people and voters will likely see the GND for what it is: our last and best hope, a practical and comprehensive program based on sound science, public need, and commonsense survival.

Initial polls in the United States in December 2018 found that 81 percent of the public (Democrats, Republicans and Independents) basically supported the idea of a GND. Later polls in 2019, even after prolonged criticisms (and misinformation) in the mass media, showed continuing majority support by 63 percent of Americans. But, of course, the oligarchy and its indentured politicians and media spokespersons will continue to attack the GND. They will try to deny or ridicule the idea that we can actually change our current fossil fuel–dependent system, provide good jobs for everyone willing to work in reconstructing our urban and rural infrastructure and agriculture, and reverse climate change. To overcome these naysayers and gain critical mass, we will have to get organized and united as never before. We will have to carry out an unprecedented campaign of mass public education and mobilization, catalyzing a ballot box revolution that will put an end to the corporate domination of the US political system—and inspiring others around the world to do the same.

Zero and Net Zero Emissions

Unfortunately, most of the public, and even some of the early proponents of the GND, don’t yet properly know how to explain what natural carbon sequestration actually means, what net zero fossil fuel emissions means, or what we’re talking about when we say that regenerative food, farming, and land use, combined with renewable energy, can actually stop and then reverse, not just slow down, global warming.

In this regard, it is extremely important for Regeneration and GND advocates to be able to explain the difference between zero fossil fuel emissions and net zero fossil fuel emissions. Net zero emissions refers to the point in time at which we will be drawing down as much of our GHG emissions as we are still putting into the atmosphere and into our oceans. But zero emissions, in the minds of ordinary people, means literally just that—no fossil fuel or greenhouse gas emissions, period. A worthy goal to shoot for, but something that will likely take us more than ten years to achieve.

Net zero emissions takes into consideration the equivalent effect or impact of carbon drawdown. Of course we can’t immediately, or even within a decade, move to global zero emissions by shutting down all cars, manufacturing, home heating and air conditioning, construction, and all commercial enterprises that utilize fossil fuels without wrecking the economy. But we can, even on the same tight ten-year time frame of 2020–2030, achieve net zero emissions through a combination of aggressive fossil fuel emissions reduction and aggressive regenerative carbon drawdown. Net zero GHG emissions will have the same practical impact on reducing global warming as zero emissions.

Of course, beyond net zero emissions, our long-term goal is to achieve net negative emissions, as soon as possible, whereby we begin to draw down and transfer 200 to 286 billion tons of excess atmospheric carbon—the dangerous legacy load of 820 billion tons of carbon from the atmosphere, where it’s undermining climate stability—into our living soils and forests, where it will bring enormous benefits. Over a long period of time, this net negative process, as part of a new green economy, will enable our supersaturated oceans to release some of the excess carbon that they have absorbed from human-caused emissions, reducing the acidity of the oceans and restabilizing global habitat for marine life as well.

Reaching Net Zero Emissions in the United States by 2030

As emphasized in chapter 2, don’t let a bunch of numbers confuse you. Basically, what we have to do in the United States and the rest of the world over the next ten years is to cut fossil fuel emissions in half and then draw down the equivalent of the remaining GHG emissions into our soils, forests, and plants through regenerative practices.

In order to achieve the goal of net zero emissions in the United States by 2030, as called for in the GND, the most practical and achievable plan will be to reduce our current levels of net fossil fuel emissions from 5.7 billion tons of CO2e to 2.75 billion tons of CO2e, a reduction of 50 percent, while we simultaneously draw down and sequester in our soils and forests an equal amount (2.75 billion tons of CO2e).

In 2018, US GHG emissions amounted to approximately 16 percent of total global emissions (37.1 billion tons of CO2e). In comparison, the US population of 330 million amounts to only 4.27 percent of the world’s population. In other words, the United States is emitting approximately four times as much GHG per capita as the average person on the planet. In fact, the United States is responsible for an estimated 28.8 percent of all human-derived global emissions since the onset of the industrial revolution in 1750.

A GND for achieving a carbon-neutral economy in the United States by 2030 will necessarily involve eliminating 45 to 60 percent of our current 5.75 billion tons of CO2e fossil fuel emissions, while sequestering the remaining two to three billion tons of CO2e through regenerative agriculture, reforestation, and ecosystem restoration. This represents an ambitious but realistic goal, according to numerous experts and current best practices, assuming we can generate sufficient political pressure to force the White House, Congress, and state and local governments to reject business as usual and take bold action.

Categories of Emissions

The EPA breaks down the sources of the United States’s gross GHG emissions into five broad categories: transportation (29 percent), electricity production (28 percent), industry (22 percent), commercial and residential (12 percent), and agriculture (9 percent). Taking the agriculture category at face value, you’d likely infer that food, farming, and land use are no more than a minor factor (9 percent) in the United States’ contribution to the global climate crisis. However, if you look more closely at the carbon or CO2e “footprint” of the food, farming, and land use sector as a whole (including fossil fuels used in on-farm production, food and crop transportation, food processing, packaging, and refrigeration, as well as the chemical inputs of pesticides and chemical fertilizers, off-gassing of CO2, methane, and nitrous oxide from soils and landfills, and destruction of wetlands and soil organic carbon), you start to realize that food, farming, and land use are actually responsible for almost half of all US GHG emissions, not just the 9 percent attributed by the EPA and the USDA to “agriculture.”

On the other hand, organic and regenerative farming and land management practices and forest growth in the United States are routinely overlooked as being important solutions to global warming and climate change. Properly managed lands and forest growth actually draw down a considerable amount of excess CO2 from the atmosphere. Currently they sequester 714 million tons of CO2e (or 11 percent of US gross emissions) annually, even according to the EPA, and even in their currently degraded condition.

We Need Net Zero Emissions by 2030, Not 2050

There is a debate in progressive political circles about whether we should adopt a more conservative goal, as put forth by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and most nations, to achieve net 45 percent reductions in GHGs by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2050, or whether we should instead aim for a much more ambitious goal, in line with the goals of the GND, to achieve net zero emissions by 2030.

A number of nations have already pledged to reach net zero emissions before 2050, including Bhutan (which has already achieved net zero emissions), Norway (2030), Uruguay (2030), Finland (2035), Iceland (2040), and Sweden (2045). The state of California, too, can be added to this list (2045). The European Union is currently operating under a net zero 2050 timeline but will likely set a stricter goal soon.

Let’s now look in more detail at how we can reduce fossil fuel emissions in the United States by 45 to 60 percent in the next decade through energy conservation and making the transition to renewable energy. Following that, let’s look at how we can draw down or sequester the remaining two to three billion tons of GHGs that we will still be emitting in a decade, so as to achieve net zero emissions.

US Roadmap Part One: Reducing Fossil Fuel Emissions by 45 to 60 Percent

The United States is fortunate to have the natural resources to help lead the global community in a transition to a green energy future, complemented by regenerative agriculture and land use. We not only have some of the best wind, solar, geothermal, hydro, and biomass resources on Earth, but our forests, soils, farmlands, grasslands, wetlands, and marine ecosystems have the inherent capacity, if properly managed and regenerated, to sequester as much CO2e as we are currently emitting, and even more. Perhaps most important of all, we have a new generation of youth, personified by the Sunrise Movement, supported by a new wave of climate-conscious, insurgent politicians, such as Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, ready and willing to take the lead.

On the renewable energy front, the United States, under a new administration in 2021 and beyond, will need to step up the pace. We must rapidly expand the US solar, wind, and renewable energy economy, which in 2017, according to the EPA, provided approximately 13 percent of our energy needs, including 22 percent of our electricity. As we ramp up renewables, we must phase out coal, oil, gas, and nuclear power plants, as rapidly as possible. Germany, with a powerful economy similar to that of the United States, has been operating under a plan for ten years to reduce emissions by 55 percent by 2030, and will likely soon be raising its goals for emissions reductions even higher. If the United States sets a goal for a 60 percent reduction in fossil fuel use/GHG emissions by 2030, similar to that of Germany, we should be able to sequester the remaining 40 percent of GHGs through regenerative food, farming, reforestation, and ecosystem restoration practices, enabling us to reach net zero emissions (carbon neutrality) by 2030. Although 60 percent in emissions reductions is an achievable goal, as we will demonstrate below, even with 45 to 50 percent reductions we can still reach carbon neutrality by maximizing regenerative agriculture and forest/land management practices.

To reduce fossil fuel use and GHG emissions by 45 to 60 percent over the next decade, we will need to generate 75 to 85 percent or more of our electricity (which now releases 28 percent of our total emissions) with renewables, basically shutting down coal generation for electricity. This will reduce current overall emissions by approximately 20 to 24 percent. Energy conservation measures across all sectors (utilities, transportation, buildings, manufacturing, agriculture) will need to go along with this renewable energy revolution in the electricity sector.

According to a comprehensive study published in 2015 by Mark Z. Jacobson and a team of experts in the peer-reviewed journal Energy and Environmental Science, all fifty states in the nation have the potential to convert their fossil fuel–based electricity, transportation, heating and cooling, and industry systems to ones powered entirely by wind, water, and sunlight, replacing 80 to 85 percent of existing fossil fuel and nuclear energy by 2030 and 100 percent by 2050. In terms of the economic impact of this mass conversion to renewable energy on employment, the study’s authors state: “Over all 50 states, converting would provide ~3.9 million 40-year construction jobs and ~2.0 million 40-year operation jobs for the energy facilities alone, the sum of which would outweigh the ~3.9 million jobs lost in the conventional energy sector.”

In terms of technological innovation, according to numerous studies, it is now cheaper and more profitable to build and operate electricity generation systems using solar and wind power than it is using coal, nuclear, or petroleum power.

But in order to replace coal, natural gas, nuclear, and petroleum as our primary power sources, our national (and international) electrical grid infrastructure will have to be rebuilt to facilitate decentralized power production and electricity sharing across regions. Also, we will obviously need to stop building more fossil fuel infrastructure (including pipelines), curtail oil and natural gas exploration and extraction, phase out polluting power plants, and electrify manufacturing, transportation, and heating. All of these measures mean leaving most, and eventually all, remaining fossil fuel reserves in the ground.

To pay for this transition, we will need to transfer massive government subsidies from fossil fuels to renewables and, at the same time, ensure a just transition and program of retraining for four million current workers in the fossil fuel sector, as outlined in the GND. If we don’t ensure a just transition (job retraining, job replacement, and/or retirement) for fossil fuel workers, we will likely never gain the political support for the GND that we need.

In the transportation sector (29 percent of current emissions), we will need to double or triple vehicle fuel economy standards and replace our gas and diesel guzzlers with as many electric cars, buses, trucks, tractors, and trains as possible so as to achieve 50 percent market share for electric vehicles by 2030. In order to do this, we will need to pay consumers, businesses, and municipalities a subsidy to switch over to electric vehicles and electrified mass transportation. This could potentially cut overall emissions by approximately 50 percent in the transportation sector. According to MIT Technology Review, given battery technology advances and cost reductions (electric cars will soon be cheaper to buy and operate than gas-driven vehicles), over half of new auto sales in 2040 will be electric vehicles.

Beyond automobiles, a growing number of nations are leading the way in terms of converting petroleum-driven buses, trucks, and trains to electricity. According to a report released at the San Francisco Global Climate Action Summit in 2018:

Every 5 weeks, China adds a fleet of electric buses equivalent to the entire London bus fleet—9500 buses. Technologies are now market ready, societally acceptable and economically attractive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transport by 51% by 2030, through electric vehicles, mass transit and adapting the global shipping fleet. . . . However, the transformation will slow dramatically without strong national and city policies, for example setting target dates to ban internal combustion engines.

In the industrial and manufacturing sector, including heavy industry, light industry, feedstocks, and food processing (22 percent of all fossil fuel emissions), we will need to reduce coal and petroleum use by at least 50 percent through dramatic increases in recycling rates, switching over as quickly as possible to electrical power generated by renewables, and efficiency improvements, such as “making products more material-efficient . . . extending lifespan and reducing weight.” In the light industry sector, including food, textile, wood, printing, and consumer products manufacturing, as well as more fossil fuel–intensive industries such as steel, aluminum, cement, and plastic production, according to experts, we can reduce overall emissions by 50 percent using current technologies and efficiencies. Of course, addressing overconsumption and waste on the part of consumers, especially more affluent consumers, will need to be part of this mission.

A transition from cement to timber in the construction industry (a growing number of buildings, even high-rise buildings, are now being built from wood, using new techniques) could eliminate 5 to 6 percent of all GHG emissions. Similar climate-friendly changes in the manufacturing, construction, and industrial sector will reduce emissions by another 10 percent, for a cumulative total reduction of emissions of 45 to 49 percent in the electricity/utilities, transportation, and manufacturing sectors.

Residential and commercial buildings now account for almost 11 percent of all fossil fuel use in the United States. We can achieve a 50 percent reduction in emissions in this sector with retrofitting, insulating, changes in building codes, and greater energy efficiency, utilizing heat pumps, solar power, heat storage, and district heating systems based upon renewable energy. This retrofitting of our buildings will reduce our overall emissions by another 5 to 6 percent, while creating millions and millions of new jobs.

This brings us to 50 to 55 percent in overall fossil fuel emissions reductions by 2030. We can achieve a further 5 to 10 percent overall emissions reduction in the food and farming sector by reducing the consumption of fossil fuel–derived materials and products (plastics, food packaging, highly processed foods), by eliminating food waste and clothing waste, by recycling organic waste instead of dumping it into landfills, where it releases methane and CO2, and by drastically reducing methane and nitrous oxide emissions from fracking, natural gas, and chemical-intensive agriculture and factory farm inputs and practices (diesel fuel, chemical fertilizers, and petroleum-derived pesticides). Sixteen percent of all US GHG emissions comprise the potent heat-trapping gases nitrous oxide and methane—a significant percentage of which come from chemical-intensive industrial agriculture emissions from heavy pesticide and fertilizer use.

Implementing all of these transformations/reductions in the electricity, transportation, manufacturing, residential and commercial buildings, food, farming, and consumption sectors, as called for by the GND, can enable the United States to basically match the emissions reduction goals of Germany, with a 60 percent decrease in GHG emissions by 2030 (from 5.9 billion tons of CO2e to 2.36 billion tons).

The remaining 40 percent of net reductions (2.36 billion tons of CO2e) required to reach net zero emissions and a carbon-neutral USA by 2030 will need to be sequestered in our 1.9 billion acres of croplands, pasturelands, rangelands, wetlands, forests, urban landscapes, and vegetation through regenerative food, farming, forestry, land management, and ecosystem restoration practices. Let’s now look in more detail at a Regeneration and carbon sequestration plan for the next decade.

US Roadmap Part Two: Sequestering Remaining CO2e through Regenerative Food, Farming, and Land Use Practices

Utilizing satellites, surveys, and other sources, the USDA categorizes the 1.9 billion acres of the Lower 48 (i.e., all the states excluding Alaska and Hawaii) as follows: 654 million acres of pasture or rangeland (much of which is degraded), 539 million acres of forest (much of which needs to be reforested), 392 million acres of cropland (most of which is degraded in terms of soil carbon), 169 million acres of “special use” lands (parks and national/state forests), 69 million acres of urban land, and 69 million acres of “miscellaneous.”

Currently, as estimated by the EPA, the Lower 48 (1.9 billion acres) are sequestering 714 million tons of CO2e (or 11 percent of US gross GHG emissions). To reach our goal of net zero emissions by 2030 (assuming energy conservation and renewable energy can reduce gross emissions by 60 percent), these 1.9 billion acres, or rather a significant percentage of these acres, will have to be regenerated and reforested over the next decade so that they can sequester approximately three to four times as much atmospheric carbon as they are currently sequestering. Looking at scaling up existing best practices, we can see that this great sequestration and recarbonization of our soils and biota is indeed possible.

Let’s look at the practices (and the math) of potential carbon sequestration (and reduction of methane and nitrous oxide emissions) on the 1.9 billion acres of US farmland, pastures, rangelands, forests, and other landscapes by 2030.

Regenerating US Pasture and Rangeland

US pasture and rangeland (654 million acres) covers more than one-third of the Lower 48. One-quarter (158 million acres) of this acreage is administered by the US government and is usually open to livestock grazing by ranchers for a fee. Another 127 million acres that the EPA classifies as croplands are used by farmers to grow animal feed for livestock. This means that the livestock and livestock feed portions of our agricultural lands adds up to 781 million acres, 41 percent of all the land in the Lower 48.

The majority of these pastures and rangelands were once a diverse landscape—grasslands and natural prairie covered with native (deep-rooted) grasses, trees, bushes, and plants. This carbon-rich, climate-friendly landscape sequestered large amounts of atmospheric carbon, supported biodiversity and wildlife, and efficiently infiltrated rainfall and snowmelt into the topsoil and groundwater, springs, and aquifers. Before the advent of the plow and the repeating rifle and the ruthless occupation of Native lands, large herds of migratory buffalo, elk, deer, and other mammals grazed on the grasslands as they moved across the continent, while millions of “keystone species,” including beavers (wetlands builders), prairie dogs (soil excavators), and wolves (forcing grazing herds to band together and killing off sick and diseased animals), worked in natural harmony to keep the landscape regenerated and hydrated.

At the present time, most of these 781 million acres have been plowed under, deforested, and/or overgrazed, leaving them eroded, degraded, and lacking in terms of soil organic carbon, soil fertility, and biodiversity. America’s once healthy pasturelands and farmlands have become major greenhouse gas emitters, rather than soil carbon sinks or repositories. But with regenerative changes in grazing practices and livestock management, including switching cattle and herbivores away from chemical-intensive, fossil fuel–intensive GMO grains to a 100 percent grass-fed diet, and moving poultry and pork from confinement to free-range pasture, raised on a diet of organic and regeneratively produced grains, we can bring US rangelands and pasturelands back to full life and vitality.

Cattle and other herbivores such as sheep, goats, and buffalo should be outdoors, grazing on pasture grass, while omnivores such as poultry and pigs should be moved out of confinement and raised outdoors in a free-range or agroforestry setting, getting some of their nutrition/food in their pastures or wooded paddocks, while getting most of their nutrition from grains and forage that have been grown in a regenerative manner (no-till, cover-cropped, alley-cropped, biodiverse, chemical-free, agroforestry). Cattle and other herbivores will thrive and produce healthier meat and dairy products once they return to a 100 percent grass diet, as will chickens and pigs raised in a natural free-range environment. And consumers, once they understand the nutritional, environmental, climate, and animal welfare superiority of grass-fed and pastured meat and dairy, will increasingly choose to buy these products, especially if current subsidies—direct and indirect—for factory farms and factory-farmed animal feeds are eliminated.

Of course, all of this will require major subsidies for farmers and ranchers (including guaranteed fair prices, supply management, and payments for soil conservation) as well as changes in consumer purchasing and consumption, including a drastic reduction in the purchasing and consumption of factory-farmed meat, dairy, and other grain-fed animal products (chicken, poultry, and factory-farmed fish).

To carry out this restoration on a large enough scale, we will have to put an end to wasting millions of acres of our valuable farmlands to grow grain for herbivores (cows, sheep, goats, and bison)—animals that should not be eating grains at all. We will also need to stop sacrificing thirty-eight million acres of our valuable farmlands to the production of ethanol and biodiesel from corn and soybeans and instead convert these row-crop commodity farms back into diverse crop production and grazing. The process of producing ethanol and biodiesel from GMO corn and soybeans, contrary to industry claims, actually uses up more fossil fuels in its growing and production cycle than it saves by allowing us to burn ethanol or biodiesel in our cars.

Regenerative management of these pasturelands and rangelands will utilize soil-building techniques such as no-till farming, multispecies cover cropping, roller crimping (breaking the plant stalks and leaving them on the field rather than plowing or spraying pesticides when the cover crops mature), and grazing animals holistically and rotationally. Once restored and under regenerative management, these lands can sequester approximately twelve tons of CO2e per acre per year.

Guaranteed subsidies for soil conservation practices, a waiver of grazing fees on properly grazed federal lands, and fair prices (coupled with supply management) for farmers and ranchers for their meat, dairy, and grains are some of the key policies we will need to implement after the 2020 elections in order to promote regenerative, carbon-sequestering management of the majority of these 781 acres of pasturelands, rangelands, and animal feed croplands. The federal farm and soil conservation policies that we will need to fund in order to achieve a carbon-neutral economy by 2030 include the following:

Expansion of the Conservation Stewardship Program and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, with billions of additional dollars a year to increase regenerative practices such as cover cropping, prescribed grazing, riparian buffers, and no-till farming.

Expansion of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) to include 100 million acres by 2030, raising rental payments made to farmers, and promoting regeneration practices, including agroforestry and holistic grazing, on these CRP lands.

Expansion of the Regional Conservation Partnership Program to substantially increase the acreage that farmers place into agriculture conservation and wetlands easements.

A major increase in the funding for research into conservation and holistic grazing, focusing on research into the reduction of carbon emissions in the agricultural sector and eliminating degenerative factory-farm production methods, as well as research dedicated to soil health.

Billions of dollars in increased incentives for local and regional food systems, as well as incentives for reforestation, regenerative forest management, and restoration of coastal wetlands. We will need to reforest over 65 million acres by 2030, on a combination of Forest Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and other federal lands, as well as on state, local, tribal, and nonprofit-owned lands. By 2050 we will need to reforest more than 250 million acres.

We must protect millions of at-risk acres of federal, state, local, tribal, and other lands by 2030 using forest management, controlled burns, and holistic grazing practices to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires and to increase forest health/resilience. We need to plant an average of fifty million trees per year in urban areas across America to reduce the heat island effect and protect communities from extreme weather. In addition, we need to invest in wood product innovation and in biochar, creating jobs in rural and urban communities. Besides these measures, we need to restore or prevent the loss of 12 to 25 million acres of coastal and inland wetlands by 2030.

If holistic grazing and livestock/pasture management best practices were carried out on just a quarter of total pastureland, rangeland, and animal feed cropland in the United States, we would still be able to sequester 2.34 billion tons of CO2e—approximately 100 percent of the carbon sequestration we need (in combination with a transition to renewable energy) to reach net zero emissions by 2030.

Regenerating US Cropland

US cropland (392 million acres) includes 52 million acres idled or lying fallow at any given time, 38 million acres used for corn ethanol or soy biodiesel, 77 million acres for human food for US consumers, 127 million acres for livestock food crops (especially corn and soy), 22 million acres for wheat exports, 14 million acres for cotton (fiber and animal feed), and 69 million acres for other grains and food exports. Yet despite its enormous agricultural production, the United States imported 15 percent of its food and beverages in 2016, including 30 percent of its fruits and vegetables.

Disregarding the 127 million acres of cropland used for livestock grains and fodder, which we have discussed in conjunction with pasture and rangeland above, the United States’ 265 million acres of additional cropland can potentially be regenerated in order to store more carbon and improve fertility, water quality, biodiversity, food safety, and food quality or nutrition.

Traditional organic crop farming (no chemicals, cover cropping, minimum or no tillage, use of natural fertilizers) can sequester CO2e at a rate of up to 5.7 tons of CO2e per acre per year. However, Dr. David Johnson’s New Mexico lab and field research on regenerative compost shows that high-fungal-content, biologically rich, semi-anaerobic compost and compost extracts produce not just very high crop yields but also massive carbon sequestration, with rates of over four tons of carbon (fifteen tons of CO2e) per acre per year. As Dr. Johnson notes, if these compost practices were scaled up on the world’s four billion acres of croplands, “the entire world’s carbon output from 2016 could be stored on just 22 percent of the globe’s arable land.” Perhaps not coincidentally, Johnson’s methods mirror traditional and indigenous compost and agroecological farming practices utilized in India and other regions.

If traditional organic crop practices were implemented on all of the 265 million acres of US cropland (again, not counting land given over to animal feed crops), we could sequester 1.3 billion tons of GHGs. If organic practices were employed on just 50 percent of these croplands, we could sequester 650 million tons. With traditional organic practices on just one-quarter of this cropland, we could sequester 325 million tons.

But if advanced organic practices like Dr. Johnson’s were implemented, we could sequester 3.9 billion tons a year on 265 million acres, or 1.95 billion tons on half of this acreage, or almost 1 billion tons of GHGs on one-quarter of this acreage.

As a conservative estimate, with a combination of traditional organic and advanced organic methods on one-quarter of US cropland, we will be able to achieve 663 million tons of CO2e sequestration—approximately one-quarter of what we need.

Necessary measures to transform US crop production will include increasing the market share of organic food from its current 5.5 percent of all food sales and 10 percent of all produce (fruit and vegetable) sales to 50 percent of all sales by 2030. At the same time, we will need to convert thirty-eight million acres of corn (ethanol) and soybean (biodiesel) crops back into multispecies perennial grasslands and pasture and/or organic multispecies grain production. We will also need to implement soil restoration, regeneration, and agroforestry practices on our fifty-two million acres of idle or fallow land, utilizing government programs to subsidize farmers for restorative and regenerative practices.

Regenerating US Forestlands

US forestland (539 million acres), or rather “unprotected” forests and timberlands in the terminology of the USDA, account for one-quarter of the land in the Lower 48. These 539 million acres do not include the “special use” protected or semi-protected forest acreage in national parks (29 million acres of land), state parks (15 million acres), or wilderness and wildlife areas (64 million acres), or the “miscellaneous” (“low economic value”) acres of trees and shrubs located in marshes, deserts, and wetlands. Nor does this acreage include trees in urban areas.

If we count all these other forested (or “treed”) areas, however, forests comprise one-third of the total US land area. That may seem like a lot, but keep in mind that forests covered half the country prior to European settlement.

The EPA estimates that US forests currently sequester approximately 9 percent of all US GHG emissions (531 million tons of CO2e) every year. Over the next ten years, in order to reach carbon neutrality, we will need to embark upon a major program of reforestation and afforestation—preserving, expanding, and improving our forests (both private and publicly owned) and tree cover (both urban and rural).

According to the rather conservative projections made by the Nature Conservancy, reforestation of forty to fifty million acres in the United States could reach three hundred million tons of additional CO2e captured per year by 2025. But according to a more recent study by Dr. Thomas Crowther and others, mentioned in chapter 4, the United States has 254 million acres of degraded forests or treeless landscapes (excluding croplands and urban areas) that could be reforested, especially in the South, Southeast, and Northeast regions of the country. These 254 million reforested acres could potentially sequester, using the Nature Conservancy projections, 1.5 billion tons of GHGs annually.

Even if we reforest only one-quarter of the potential area that could be reforested in the United States by 2030, we will still be able to sequester 375 million tons of CO2e—approximately 15 percent of what we need.

As a recent article titled “Let’s Reforest America to Act on Climate” points out: “Under the original New Deal, the Civilian Conservation Corps planted three billion trees and employed three million workers in the process. America is well positioned to advance a similar effort again, with almost 20 million acres of recently disturbed land needing reforestation.”

“Special use” lands (169 million acres), including parks, wildlife areas, highways, railroads, and military bases, include millions of additional acres suitable for reforestation and afforestation, as identified by Crowther and others.

Urban areas (69 million acres) make up 3.6 percent of the land area of the Lower 48 but include 81 percent of the population (19 percent of people live in rural areas). Urban areas are growing by a million acres a year. Lawn areas in US cities and towns are estimated to include forty million acres of turf grass, covering 1.9 percent of the land. Although Crowther and others do not include urban areas in their totals for land that could be reforested, obviously millions of acres in urban areas are suitable for planting trees, which would then sequester carbon, reduce summertime urban temperatures, and provide shade, food, and habitat for humans, pollinators, and animals. In the United States, we should set a goal for planting 500 million new trees in urban areas by 2030.

Regenerating So-Called “Miscellaneous Lands”

“Miscellaneous lands” (69 million acres) are categorized by the USDA as having “low economic value.” These lands include cemeteries, golf courses, and airports, but also marshes and coastal wetlands. Contrary to the USDA’s assessment, the nation’s marshes and wetlands are enormously important in terms of sequestering carbon, filtering pollution, buffering hurricanes, preserving water quality, and providing habitat for fish and wildlife. As part of a national campaign of ecosystem restoration and carbon sequestration in the United States, we will need to restore millions of acres of wetlands, marshes, and marine ecosystems. It is estimated that the continental United States (not including Alaska) once had 220 million acres of wetlands, most of which have now been drained or destroyed. Restoring 12 to 25 million acres of marshlands and wetlands in the Lower 48 would sequester 75 to 150 million tons of CO2e annually.

The Bottom Line for US Carbon Neutrality

The bottom line for achieving carbon neutrality in the United States by 2030 is to basically reduce fossil fuel emissions by 45 to 60 percent in our electricity, transportation, housing, construction, and manufacturing sectors, in line with what other advanced industrial nations such as Germany are undertaking, while simultaneously carrying out the regenerative, carbon-sequestering agriculture and land use practices outlined above. With changes in livestock and pasture management on just a quarter of total pastureland, rangeland, and animal feed cropland (781 million acres), by 2030 we can sequester more than 2.34 billion tons of CO2e annually. With changes in management, utilizing organic and advanced organic methods, on a quarter of our 265 million acres of croplands (not counting land used to produce animal feed), we can achieve an additional 663 million tons of CO2e sequestration. With reforestation and afforestation on 25 percent of the 254 million acres of degraded forests or treeless landscapes (excluding croplands and urban areas) in the United States, we can sequester an additional 375 million tons of CO2e. Restoration of wetlands can sequester an additional 75 to 150 million tons. Altogether, by 2030, this great regeneration will sequester 3.4 billion tons of CO2e annually, enough to enable the United States to reach carbon neutrality, even if the country only manages to reach 45 percent in fossil fuel reductions, rather than the 60 percent that Germany and a number of other nations will achieve.

Altogether, with the ongoing restoration and regeneration of our 1.9 billion acres of pasturelands, rangelands, croplands, forests, and wetlands—driven by changes in public policy, consumer demand, and farmer/land management innovation—we, as part of a GND, can lead the United States (and, by example, the world) away from climate catastrophe to carbon neutrality. This will then prepare us to keep moving forward beyond 2030: to draw down enough excess carbon from the atmosphere into our revitalized soils, forests, and plants to reverse global warming and restore our precious environment and climate. But the hour is late. We need a GND and a Regeneration revolution. And we need to step up our public education, coalition building, direct action, and electoral insurgency now.

Political Power Now: Greening the White House and the Congress

We have no choice but to move boldly forward with a system-changing GND in the United States and other nations, infused with the goal of 100 percent renewable energy and a massive scaling up of regenerative food, farming, and land use policies and practices. But if we hope to gain the support we need from working people and lower-income communities, renewable energy and regenerative food and farming must be delivered as part of a popular overall package for a just transition that includes full employment, livable wages, universal health care, debt relief, and free public education as well.

Like it or not, what the United States does or does not do in the 2020 election (and the 2020–2030 decade) is crucially important. We need a new president, we need a new green-minded majority in the House and the Senate, and we need new green and Regeneration-supportive government officials and public policies in all of our states, counties, cities, and towns. This means that our number one priority, given our limited timeline, must be to join and help build a mass movement to take power in Congress and the White House in 2020 and 2022.

Fortunately, we already have the initial public support (63 percent of people in the United States currently support the GND), grassroots leaders (the Sunrise Movement and a growing activist rainbow of movements and Regenerators), and a new insurgent group of political leaders who share our vision, who will be welcomed by an already Regeneration-minded movement and government in the nations around the world. We already have 90 or more of the 435 members of the House of Representatives who have endorsed the GND, along with a dozen high-profile senators. All of the leading Democratic Party candidates for president in 2020, including Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, have endorsed the GND. For the first time ever, climate change has become a major electoral theme in the United States and other nations.

Jump-Starting the Green Machine

The next step prior to the crucial November 2020 presidential and congressional elections in the United States (and elections in other nations) is to build mass awareness at the local, state, and congressional levels. We need local GND/Regeneration committees; we need speaker’s bureaus; we need media teams; we need fundraisers, coalition builders, and grassroots and grasstops lobbyists; and we need online and, most important, on-the-ground activism (petitions, teach-ins, door knocking, protests, electoral campaigns, ballot initiatives). We must start now to build broad-based, powerful, bipartisan if possible, statewide and national coalitions for a GND that highlight not only renewable energy, but regenerative food, farming, and land use policies and practices as well.

We have no choice but to break down the issue silos that divide us—we don’t have time for anyone to think, “My issue is more important than your issue,” or “My constituency is more important than your constituency.” We must connect the dots, create synergy, and unite a critical mass of heretofore single-issue, limited-constituency movements (climate, peace, labor, health, environment, food, farming, and social justice). At the same time, on the political front we must strive to bring together for discussion and common action progressive Democrats and conservation-minded Independents, Republicans, and Libertarians. We must build awareness and cooperation in a survival-oriented united front that can elect green and Regeneration-minded majorities in both urban and rural districts. Breaking down walls and issue silos, we must convince renewable energy and progressive political activists that regenerative food, farming, and land use practices and policies are essential, while at the same time getting food, farming, and environmental/conservation activists to understand that we must all become climate activists and renewable energy advocates and we must all get involved in political action.

The Power of One in Catastrophic Times

No doubt you’ve heard something like the message of this book before. I’ve personally been writing and campaigning around a host of life-or-death political, food, farming, and environmental issues like these for fifty years, starting with the threat of nuclear annihilation in the Cold War, the civil rights movement, and the Vietnam War in the 1960s. The exciting, world-changing difference now is that objective conditions are finally ripe for a Regeneration revolution in the United States and around the world. What I’ve said and written before about the environment, food, health, politics, war, and peace, with every ounce of knowledge and passion I could muster, was basically true. It’s just that we, the global grassroots—farmers and consumers, students and workers, and our political and activist leaders—weren’t quite ready yet. The crisis of the past fifty years hadn’t yet reached its present intensity. In addition, up until now, we didn’t have a workable plan, strategy, and tactics. We didn’t have a GND or a set of radical political leaders at the federal level to rally behind. We didn’t have grassroots leaders in every community like those that we have now. We didn’t have a full understanding of the relationship between food, farming, land use, soil health, fossil fuels, climate change, deteriorating public health, environmental degradation, justice, international relations, war, and peace. Now we do. Now we can connect the dots and move forward together, not just in one region or country, but globally.

Here’s an excerpt from a speech I gave twenty-five years ago, on September 24, 1995, at the US-Canada International Joint Commission on the Great Lakes. I think my message from then is even more relevant today:

The time bomb we call the future is ticking away even as we consider these matters. We have no time to lose. The time for standing around and feeling inadequate or frustrated is over. If you’ve been waiting for new movement leadership and new ideas to arrive, wait no longer. Look in the mirror, look at the people around you today. Go back to your community and form an affinity group of like-minded individuals, people whom you feel good about. Work with people who will make your social change efforts effective as well as fulfilling, and yes, even joyful. People bold enough to take on the corporate Global Lords, yet humble and grounded enough to practice what they preach. Once properly grounded, link up your core group and your outreach and coalition-building efforts with other compatible groups in your community, county, state, and region. If you’re not exactly certain of how to go about getting organized in your community, then search out the activist “coaches” and social-change movement “veterans” who are willing to help you. Don’t mourn about the state of the world or the state of your individual soul! Organize! There’s only one reason for joining up in the worldwide movement to save the planet and build a more democratic and ethically sound commonwealth: because it’s the best way to live.

It makes a great deal of difference what you and I do as individuals in our everyday lives. It makes a difference how you and I behave in the marketplace, and in the realm of civil society and politics. How we act, what we talk about with family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers. How we spend our money and our precious spare time. How we raise our children. What we read and share and write as we sit in front of our computers and cell phone screens. Which groups we join, support, and donate money to. Which politicians we lobby and vote for.

Never underestimate the power of one individual—yourself. But please understand, at the same time, that what we do as individuals will never be enough. We have to get organized, and we have to help others, in our region, in our nation, and everywhere, build a mighty green Regeneration movement. The time to begin is now.

Ronnie Cummins is co-founder of   Regeneration International and the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), and the author of “Grassroots Rising: A Call to Action on Food, Farming, Climate and a Green New Deal.”

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La visión del 2020: una regeneración de año nuevo

Más allá de la contaminación mediática, de la obsesión con la corrupción de Trump y de las interminables distracciones de la temporada navideña, probablemente no tenga que recordarle que el final de la era moderna está por llegar.

Como la mayoría de nosotros ya nos hemos dado cuenta, incluso mientras reprimimos este pensamiento para mantener nuestra cordura, nos estamos acercando rápidamente al “punto de no retorno”, por el cual nuestra emergencia climática del siglo XXI y el colapso social comienzan a transformarse en una catástrofe global.

A pesar de encontrarnos en plena celebración de las navidades con familia y amigos, es difícil evitar pensar en la “emergencia” y los delincuentes climáticos, los políticos condicionados contractualmente y los negadores del clima que nos han arrastrado al precipicio.

Nuestra casa común está “en llamas” como Greta Thunberg nos recuerda. Y como Arundhati Roy lamenta: “cada vez es más difícil comunicar la magnitud de la crisis incluso a nosotros mismos. Una descripción precisa corre el riesgo de sonar como una hipérbole”.

Pero lo que mis aliados y yo en el movimiento de regeneración global queremos decirles es que existe una solución práctica que nos puede sacar de este callejón sin salida donde nos encontramos y que ya está lista para ser implementada: un Nuevo Acuerdo Verde Regenerativo impulsado por la mayor concientización de las bases, un movimiento climático liderado por jóvenes y una revolución en las urnas del 2020.

Hace mucho tiempo que necesitamos una transformación de nuestros sistemas agrícola y de energía que convierta nuestra economía, basada en los combustibles fósiles y emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero, a energías renovables; junto con la implementación generalizada de prácticas orgánicas y regenerativas, revegetación, reforestación, recarbonización y rehidratación de nuestras tierras de cultivo, pastizales y bosques. Todo esto reducirá drásticamente las emisiones globales (en un 50% o más) durante la próxima década, a la vez que captura las emisiones restantes en nuestros suelos, bosques y plantas.

La gran transición a las energías renovables y la conservación radical de la energía, en combinación con el mayor poder de la fotosíntesis y la captura de carbono de los alimentos, la agricultura y el uso de la tierra regenerativos, harán posible alcanzar emisiones netas zero para el 2030. Eso permitirá al mundo cambiar a emisiones netas negativas durante las siguientes décadas, literalmente extrayendo suficiente CO2 de la atmósfera no solo para mitigar sino para revertir el calentamiento global y así restaurar la estabilidad climática, la fertilidad del suelo, los medios de vida rurales y la salud pública.

Un exceso de pesimismo ha nublado nuestra visión colectiva, reforzando los muros que nos dividen, y robándonos el optimismo y la energía positiva que nos dan vida y que necesitamos para llevar a cabo una revolución política.

Tenemos el poder de poner fin a los negocios como siempre. Desde los pequeños negocios de las calles principales de todos los pueblos y ciudades estadounidenses hasta Oriente Medio y más allá, podemos generar el cambio inspirándonos en las tendencias positivas y las mejores prácticas (energía alternativa, alimentación y agricultura orgánicas y regenerativas, restauración de ecosistemas, insurgencia política y acción directa) empleadas en millones de ciudades, pueblos y comunidades rurales alrededor del mundo.

Nosotros, los movimientos de base de todo el mundo, podemos avanzar y resolver la crisis climática y todas las demás crisis interrelacionadas que nos afectan: pobreza, injusticia económica, deterioro de la salud pública, destrucción del medio ambiente, conflicto social, guerra interminable, erosión de la democracia y dominación y control de las élites. Las soluciones regenerativas que necesitamos, de hecho, se manifiestan en este mismo momento, en cada nación, en cada región, señalando la forma de transformar cada aspecto de nuestras vidas.

Las soluciones que necesitamos no están más lejos que el panel solar, el parque eólico, el edificio modernizado, el carril bici, el vehículo eléctrico, el jardín comunitario, el mercado de agricultores, la granja orgánica y el rancho de gestión integral más cercanos. Las soluciones que necesitamos se encuentran en la punta de nuestros tenedores y cuchillos, debajo de los árboles que nos dan sombra, el suelo que captura el carbono debajo de nuestros pies, los dólares de consumidores en nuestras billeteras y nuestra cabina de votación más cercana.


Regeneración y el auge de los movimientos de base mundiales


En el camino del proselitismo para la producción orgánica y la regeneración, una de las preguntas más frecuentes que me hacen es algo algo así:

“Ronnie, dada la atmósfera política actual y el estado del clima y el planeta, ¿por qué es tan optimista?”

Si en este momento tuviéramos el tiempo y el espacio, me complacería darle una respuesta larga como un libro sobre por qué soy tan optimista. De hecho, acabo de escribir un libro así. Se llama “Grassroots Rising: A Call to Action on Climate, Farming, Food, and a Green New Deal” (El auge de las comunidades de base mundiales: un llamado a la acción sobre el clima, la agricultura, la alimentación y un Nuevo Acuerdo Verde), publicado por la editorial Chelsea Green Publishers. El libro saldrá a la venta el 11 de febrero. (Puede pre-ordenar una copia aquí).

Pero para mayor brevedad, y para que usted y yo podamos volver a nuestra alegría navideña, aquí tiene un resumen de mi visión del 2020, cuatro razones por las que soy optimista de que las cosas están a punto de cambiar:

  1. Un movimiento climático radical liderado por jóvenes, el Movimiento Sunrise, Extinction Rebellion, los Viernes para el Futuro y otros han ayudado a hacer de la emergencia climática un tema de vanguardia, no solo en América del Norte y Europa, sino en todo el mundo.


  1. Un socialista radical y democrático, el senador Bernie Sanders, que pide una revolución política y una transformación fundamental del sistema energético, socioeconómico, político y alimentario y agrícola de los EE. UU., bajo la bandera de un Nuevo Acuerdo Verde, tiene una oportunidad real de convertirse en el próximo presidente de los Estados Unidos. Con todo el mundo observando con interés, una Casa Blanca con Bernie Sanders y un nuevo equilibrio de poder en el Congreso, inspirado en un Nuevo Acuerdo Verde, darán impulso a las comunidades de base mundiales.


  1. Los alimentos, la agricultura, el uso del suelo regenerativos y la restauración del ecosistema se han convertido de repente en los temas más importantes, emocionantes y comentados en los círculos climáticos, alimentarios y agrícolas. Las personas finalmente están entendiendo lo que los científicos mundiales, el Movimiento Sunrise y el Nuevo Acuerdo verde han estado exigiendo: la necesidad de tanto una transición rápida a energía alternativa como a alimentos y agricultura orgánicos / regenerativos para alcanzar emisiones netas cero para el 2030.


  1. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, la miembro integrante del Congreso más joven de la historia, y la líder más radical y carismática en los EE. UU. desde los asesinatos de Robert Kennedy y Martin Luther King en 1968, cumplirá 35 años en octubre de 2024, lo que la hace elegible para suceder a Bernie Sanders (si elige servir solo un período) como la primera mujer, y la primera mujer de color, en convertirse en presidenta de los EE. UU.


Es cierto que nuestra nueva visión del mundo y nuestro movimiento por un Nuevo Acuerdo Verde Regenerativo aún se encuentran en las primeras etapas de desarrollo. La mayoría de las personas en el mundo nunca ha escuchado la historia completa sobre el poder milagroso del mejoramiento de la fertilidad del suelo, la restauración del ecosistema, el pastoreo holístico y la fotosíntesis de las plantas para extraer suficiente dióxido de carbono de la atmósfera a nuestros suelos y biota para reestabilizar el clima, revertir el calentamiento global, mejorar la calidad de vida de los pequeños agricultores y las comunidades rurales y producir suficientes alimentos de alta calidad para todo el planeta.

Lo que emociona en verdad es ver cómo las personas, especialmente los jóvenes, las mujeres y las comunidades rurales y oprimidas se sienten inspiradas al escuchar sobre el sorprendente potencial de regeneración. Esta es una regeneración que se combina con energía alternativa y justicia ambiental, que nos une a todos en una campaña común por el cambio real. Una revolución que es un llamado activo para la unión y el compromiso entre consumidores, agricultores, activistas, empresas progresistas y funcionarios públicos informados.

Esta década difícil y realmente aterradora ha terminado y para citar al poeta ganador del Premio Nobel de Estados Unidos, Bob Dylan, “Dejémonos de falsedades ahora, se está haciendo tarde”.


Únase a nosotros hoy mientras construimos un movimiento para cambiar el mundo.


Ronnie Cummins es el director internacional de Organic Consumers Association (OCA) y miembro de la junta directiva de Regeneration International (RI). Su Nuevo libroGrassroots Rising: A Call to Action on Climate, Farming, Food, and a Green New Deal” saldrá a la venta en febrero de 2020. Para mantenerse informado de las noticias y alertas de RI, regístrese aquí.


Publicado con permiso de Common Dreams

A Green New Deal Must Offer Farmers a Way to Transition to Regenerative Agriculture

Last year, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) introduced a resolution to Congress calling for an ambitious re-imagining of the U.S. economy―one that would tackle both climate change and inequality.

Now with broad support among democratic presidential hopefuls, the Green New Deal resolution highlights the transformation of energy, transportation, health care and employment systems in our country, while briefly mentioning food and agriculture.

We believe, however, that since agriculture is both a major contributor to climate change and one of the key solutions, it should be a major part of the Green New Deal. In a new report by Data for Progress, titled “Regenerative Farming and the Green New Deal,” we propose addressing climate change, and the economic hardship faced by small farmers, by providing a supportive transition from unhealthy soil practices to regenerative farming systems.

Right now, soil health is declining because intensive farming practices, including monocultures, deplete soil organic matter, destroy the biological health of soil, and increase the soil’s vulnerability to erosion.


2020 Vision: A New Year’s Regeneration

Beyond the media smog, the 24/7 fixation on the Trump cesspool and the endless distractions of the holiday season, I probably don’t have to remind you that the end of the modern era is at hand.

As most of us realize, even as we repress this thought in order to maintain our sanity, we are fast approaching “the point of no return,” whereby our 21st century Climate Emergency and societal meltdown begin to morph into global catastrophe.

Even in the midst of enjoying a break over the holidays and celebrating with our family and friends, it’s hard to avoid thinking about the “Emergency”—and the climate criminals, indentured politicians and climate deniers who have dragged us to the precipice.

Our common house is “on fire” as Greta Thunberg reminds us. And as Arundhati Roy laments: “It is becoming more and more difficult to communicate the scale of the crisis even to ourselves. An accurate description runs the risk of sounding like hyperbole.”

But what I, and my allies in the global Regeneration Movement want to tell you, is that there is a practical, shovel-ready solution to our impasse, a Regenerative Green New Deal powered by a massive leap in grassroots consciousness, a youth-led climate movement and a 2020 ballot box- revolution.

The long-overdue transformation of our energy and agricultural systems, converting our greenhouse gas-intensive, fossil fuel economy to renewables, coupled with a massive organic and regenerative drawdown, revegetation, reforestation, re-carbonization and rehydration of our farmlands, rangelands and forests will dramatically reduce global emissions (by 50 percent or more) over the next decade, meanwhile sequestering the remaining emissions in our soils, forests and plants.

The Great Transition to renewable energy and radical energy conservation, in combination with the enhanced photosynthesis and carbon sequestration power of regenerative food, farming and land use will make it possible to achieve net-zero emissions by 2030, enabling the world to shift into net-negative emissions over the following decades, literally drawing down enough CO2 from the atmosphere to not only mitigate but to actually reverse global warming and thereby restore climate stability, soil fertility, rural livelihoods and public health.

An excess of gloom and doom has clouded our collective vision, reinforcing the walls and silos that divide us, and robbing us of the life-giving optimism and positive energy that we need to carry out a political revolution. From Main Street to the Middle East and beyond, drawing inspiration from the positive trends and best practices (alternative energy, organic and regenerative food and farming, ecosystem restoration, political insurgency and direct action) in our millions of cities, towns and rural communities across the globe, we have the power to put an end to business as usual.

We, the global grassroots, can move forward and solve the climate crisis and all the other interrelated crises that plague us: poverty, economic injustice, deteriorating public health, environmental destruction, societal conflict, endless war, the erosion of democracy and elite domination and control. The regenerative solutions we need are, in fact, manifesting themselves at this very moment, in every nation, in every region, pointing the way to transform every aspect of our lives.

The solutions we need are no farther away than the nearest solar panel, wind farm, retrofitted building, bicycle path, electric vehicle, community garden, farmers market, organic farm and holistically-managed ranch. The solutions we need lie at the end of our forks and knives, under the trees that shade us, the carbon-sequestering soil below our feet, the consumer dollars in our wallets and our nearest voting booth.


Regeneration and the global grassroots rising

Out on the road proselytizing for organics and regeneration, one of the most frequent questions I get goes something like this:

“Ronnie, given the current political atmosphere, and the state of the climate and the planet, why are you so optimistic?”

If we had the time and the space right now I’d be happy to give you a full book-length answer on why I’m so optimistic. In fact, I’ve just written such a book. It’s called Grassroots Rising: A Call to Action on Climate, Farming, Food, and a Green New Deal, by Chelsea Green Publishers. The book will go on sale February 11. (You can pre-order a copy here).

But in the interest of brevity, and so you and I can hopefully get back to our holiday cheer, here’s a summary of my 2020 Vision, four reasons why I’m optimistic that things are about to turn around:

  1. A radical, youth-led climate movement, the Sunrise Movement, the Extinction RebellionFridays for the Future, and others have helped make the Climate Emergency a front-burner issue—not only in North America and Europe, but across the world.
  2. A radical, democratic socialist, Sen. Bernie Sanders, calling for political revolution and a fundamental transformation of the U.S. energy, socio-economic, political and food and farming system, under the banner of a Green New Deal, has a real chance to become the next president of the United States. With the whole world watching, a Bernie Sanders White House and a new balance of power in Congress, inspired by a Green New Deal, will galvanize the global grassroots.
  3. Regenerative food, farming, land use and ecosystem restoration have suddenly become the most important, exciting and talked-about topics in climate, food and farming circles. People are finally understanding that we need both a rapid transition to alternative energy and a rapid transition to organic/regenerative food and farming in order to reach net-zero emissions by 2030, as called for by world scientists, the Sunrise Movement, and the Green New Deal.
  4. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest member of Congress in history, and the most radical, charismatic leader in the U.S. since the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King in 1968, will turn 35 in October 2024, making her eligible to succeed Bernie Sanders (should he choose to serve only one term) as the first woman, and first woman of color, to become president of the U.S.

It’s true that our new world view and Movement for a Regenerative Green New Deal are still in the early stages of development. The majority of the people in the world have never heard the full story about the miraculous power of enhanced soil fertility, ecosystem restoration, holistic grazing and plant photosynthesis to draw down enough excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into our soils and biota to re-stabilize the climate, reverse global warming, raise the standard of living for small farmers and rural communities and produce enough high-quality food for the entire planet.

But the exciting thing is that when people, especially young people, women and rural and oppressed communities do hear about the amazing potential of regeneration, combined with alternative energy and environmental justice, to unite us all in a common campaign to turn things around, they are inspired. And they’re often ready to sign up, to get engaged with others—consumers, farmers, activists, progressive businesses and enlightened public officials—to move this revolution forward.

But, as this difficult and indeed frightening decade ends, to quote America’s Nobel Prize winning poet, Bob Dylan, “Let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late.”

Join us today as we build a movement to change the world.


Ronnie Cummins is a founding steering committee member of Regeneration International and co-founder and international director of the Organic Consumers Association. His new book, “Grassroots Rising: A Call to Action on Climate, Farming, Food and a Green New Deal,” will be out in February 2020. To keep up with Regeneration International, sign up for our newsletter.


Posted with permission from Common Dreams

The Key to the Environmental Crisis Is Beneath Our Feet

The Green New Deal resolution that was introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives in February hit a wall in the Senate, where it was called unrealistic and unaffordable. In a Washington Post article titled “The Green New Deal Sets Us Up for Failure. We Need a Better Approach,” former Colorado governor and Democratic presidential candidate John Hickenlooper framed the problem like this:

The resolution sets unachievable goals. We do not yet have the technology needed to reach “net-zero greenhouse gas emissions” in 10 years. That’s why many wind and solar companies don’t support it. There is no clean substitute for jet fuel. Electric vehicles are growing quickly, yet are still in their infancy. Manufacturing industries such as steel and chemicals, which account for almost as much carbon emissions as transportation, are even harder to decarbonize.

Amid this technological innovation, we need to ensure that energy is not only clean but also affordable. Millions of Americans struggle with “energy poverty.”



Letter from Santiago: Regeneration Now

SANTIAGO, Chile – Defying the machinations of discredited President Sebastian Pinera—who abruptly cancelled the Global Climate Summit in Santiago, Chile in reaction to the nationwide grassroots uprising that erupted here on October 18—an intrepid band of North and South American farmers, food activists and climate campaigners, under the banner of Regeneration International, came together in the Chilean capital of Santiago to share experiences and ideas, and to develop a common strategy for reversing global warming and resolving the other burning issues that are pressing down on us.

With global attention focused on Madrid, which hosted the December 2-13 official COP 25 Climate Summit after Chile pulled out, a number of us decided nevertheless to hold our own North and South America mini-summit here, expressing our solidarity with the Chilean people’s epic struggle, and, at the same time, giving some of the best practitioners and campaigners in the Regeneration Movement the opportunity to focus on what’s holding us back and how we can most quickly move forward.

More and more people in Madrid this week, and all over the world, are finally talking about how regenerative agriculture and ecosystem restoration can sequester large amounts of excess atmospheric carbon in soils, trees and plants, while providing other valuable ecological, public health, and economic benefits.

Yet overall progress is still too slow. We need total system change, and a Regenerative Revolution—now—if we hope to turn things around in time.


Accelerating public awareness and movement-building

Public awareness of how photosynthesis works, of what agroecology and agroforestry mean, of how healthy plants and trees and properly grazed livestock draw down and sequester significant amounts of carbon in the soil, of how Big Food and Big Ag’s chemical and fossil fuel-intensive food system is a major factor driving global warming and poverty, is still in the early stages—as is public awareness of the multiple benefits of regenerative food, farming and land use.

Most climate activists are still focused narrowly on reducing fossil fuel use. They are still ignoring the fact that it will take both a rapid conversion to renewable energy and a massive drawdown of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere (especially here in the Global South) if we are to achieve net zero emissions by 2030, (and net negative emissions from 2030-2050) as called for by the Sunrise Movement and Bernie Sanders in the U.S., and by various national and international coalitions for a Green New Deal.

But in order to gain critical mass, political power and sufficient resources—North and South—we have no choice but to move beyond single-issue campaigns and minor reforms to building a qualitatively stronger and more diverse Movement. To head off catastrophe and bring the world’s corporate criminals and fascist politicians to heel, we must unite all the different currents of our local-to-global resistance. We must create a world-changing synergy between our myriad demands and constituencies for economic justice, social equity and renewable energy and our demands for radical and regenerative transformations in our food, farming, forestry and land-use policies.


Gaining political power

Unfortunately, many organic and agro-ecological farmers, food and consumer organizations, and anti-GMO and anti-factory farm activists are still either apolitical, or afraid of being called “radical.”

For example, too many organic consumers and farmers in the U.S. are still questioning why they should support revolutionary change, such as a multi-trillion-dollar Green New Deal, or a radical presidential candidate like Bernie Sanders, who is calling for political revolution (eco-social justice, universal health care, and free public education), as well as renewable energy and a new food system based upon organic regenerative practices.

What many of our well-meaning but often naïve, timid or overly pessimistic compatriots fail to understand is that without a radical shift in political power and public policies, including finance policies—facilitating a massive infusion of public money and private investments—our growing organic and regeneration revolution will likely shrivel up and die on the vine. And of course such a dramatic cultural and political transformation will be possible only with the massive participation and leadership of youth, women, African-Americans, Latinos and workers, carrying out a Ballot Box Revolution that includes, but is not limited to, our life-or-death food, farming and climate imperatives.

Ten to 25 percent market share for organic and local food and grass-fed meat and animal products by 2030 is better than what we have now, but it’s not going to make much difference on a burnt planet. Our planetary house, as Greta Thunberg reminded us once again this week in Madrid, is on fire.

Without mass grassroots awareness and collective action, without a political revolution, as well as an energy and farming revolution and a massive influx of funds, public and private, the business-as-usual machinations of the billionaires, the multinational corporations (Bayer/Monsanto, Cargill, JBS, Wal-Mart, Amazon, Facebook, Google et al) and the one percent will drive us past the point of no return and destroy us all.

In order to replicate and scale up the game-changing, carbon-sequestering regenerative food, farming and ecosystem restoration practices that are finally taking root and spreading across the Americas and the planet—these include bio-intensive organic, agroecology, holistic grazing, agroforestry, permaculture, reforestation and biochar—we need all of the major drivers of regeneration to be operating in synergy and at full power.

As we affirmed in our Regeneration International General Assembly meeting on December 10 in Santiago:

Given the unprecedented and accelerating global-scale climate emergency that is upon us, global governments and civil society must rapidly prioritize, invest in, and scale up the following:

  • Public education on climate and regeneration and a sharp focus on grassroots movement-building
  • Rapid expansion of existing regenerative agriculture practices that promote ecosystem restoration, carbon-capture in soils, and food security
  • Reorientation of public policies to support regenerative agricultural practices and ecosystem restoration
  • Reorientation of economic priorities to facilitate a massive increase in public and private investment in regenerative practices…”


Despite the continuing bad news on the climate front, and the rise of authoritarian and fascist regimes in South America and across the world, our counterparts here in Santiago have been very happy to hear about some of the recent positive developments in North America, including the growing support for a Green New Deal and the campaign of Bernie Sanders for president, as well as the growth of radical, youth-led, direct action groups such as the Sunrise Movement, Extinction Rebellion and Fridays for the Future.

In the short span of 12 months, the Green New Deal Resolution in the U.S. has gained massive support from disenfranchised youth, minority communities, embattled working class constituencies, the food movement and climate activists. The resolution, according to a number of polls, now has the support of more than 60 percent of the population, despite increasingly frantic opposition by Trump, the corporate mass media and the neo-liberal wing of the Democratic Party, represented by Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and billionaires like Michael Bloomberg.

The growing understanding that we need “System Change,” i.e. a political revolution, in the U.S. if we are to stop climate change and resolve our other burning crises, is echoed in the call for a “Fourth Transformation” in Mexico, in the growing movement for the overthrow of the climate-denying, Amazon-burning, fascist Bolsonaro junta in Brazil (ditto Bolivia, Honduras, China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, et al), and now the thunderous demand from all sectors of the population for a New Constitution and a democratic revolution in Chile.


Taking it to the streets

Marching and chanting with our Chilean brothers and sisters along riot-scarred streets in central Santiago, past an astonishing number of smashed-up billboards, burnt-out subway stations, battered storefronts, broken traffic lights, boarded-up banks, hotels and businesses, it’s clear that elite control and “business as usual,” at least here in Chile, is no longer tolerable. Along the major thoroughfares such as Avenida Providencia, neighborhood or family-owned businesses, “somos pyme” have generally been spared, while colonial monuments, government buildings, Starbucks, McDonald’s, Oxxo, Domino’s Pizza the Crown Plaza Hotel, and other symbols of multinational control and consumerism have been spray painted, smashed and vandalized.

Supposedly prosperous Chile—the Latin America “free market” jewel of U.S. foreign policy (where President Nixon, Kissinger, AT&T and the CIA overthrew the democratic socialist government of Salvador Allende in 1973)—today has the surreal feeling of a post-modern dystopia. Block after block, mile after mile, with anti-government youth directing traffic at many of the intersections, every wall of the central city is covered with messages of resistance and solidarity, including heartbreaking photos of young protesters (my son’s age) murdered, blinded (the Carbineri have reportedly been deliberately shooting rubber bullets into the eyes of protestors) and imprisoned.

Chile’s workers, indigenous Mapuches, farmers and the once-middle class, led by youth and students, are rising up against the one percent, despite tremendous repression.

Meanwhile the glaciers that supply much of Chile’s water and agriculture are melting. Record-breaking temperatures, forest fires and drought are spreading here and throughout Latin America. Last Sunday, just as thousands of young protestors on bicycles converged on President Pineda’s mansion calling for his resignation and a new Constitution, a massive wildfire broke out on one of the seriously deforested and parched mountains surrounding the city. The scene reminded me of what’s happening in California, and even now in the Boreal forests of Canada and Alaska.

Our collective house, our politics and our climate, are all on fire. As India activist Arundhati Roy said:

“It is becoming more and more difficult to communicate the scale of the crisis even to ourselves. An accurate description runs the risk of sounding like hyperbole…”

The hour is late. The crisis is dire. But as those of us in the Regeneration Movement understand, heart and mind, we’ve still got time to turn things around. But the time to act, to educate, to build stronger movements, to scale up our best practices, to gain political power, is now.


Ronnie Cummins is a founding steering committee member of Regeneration International and co-founder and international director of the Organic Consumers Association. His new book, “Grassroots Uprising: A Call to Action on Climate, Farming, Food and a Green New Deal,” will be out in February 2020. To keep up with Regeneration International, sign up for our newsletter.

Carta desde Santiago: Regeneración ahora

A contramano de la abrupta cancelación de sede de la Desafiando los planes maquiavélicos del desacreditado presidente Sebastián Piñera, que canceló abruptamente la Cumbre Mundial sobre el Clima en Santiago, Chile, en reacción a la revuelta popular a nivel nacional que estalló aquí el 18 de octubre, un grupo de determinadosi agricultores y agricultoras granjeros, activistas alimentarios y activistas climáticos de América del Norte y del Sur, bajo la bandera de Regeneration International, se reunieron en la capital chilena de Santiago para compartir experiencias e ideas, y para desarrollar una estrategia común para revertir el calentamiento global y resolver los otros problemas que son cada vez más insoslayables. candentes que nos presionan.

Con la atención global centrada en Madrid, que fue sede de la Cumbre sobre el clima oficial COP 25 del 2 al 13 de diciembre después de la retirada de Chile, algunos  decidimos celebrar nuestra propia mini cumbre de América del Norte y del Sur aquí, expresando nuestra solidaridad con la épica lucha del pueblo chileno y, al mismo tiempo, dar a algunos de los mejores practicantes y activistas del Movimiento de Regeneración la oportunidad de concentrarse en lo que nos está frenando y cómo podemos avanzar más rápidamente.

Esta semana, más y más personas en Madrid y en todo el mundo, están finalmente hablando de cómo la agricultura regenerativa y la restauración del ecosistema pueden capturar grandes cantidades de carbono atmosférico en exceso en los suelos, árboles y plantas y al mismo tiempo brindar otros valiosos servicios ecológicos, de salud pública y beneficios económicos.

Sin embargo, el progreso general sigue siendo demasiado lento. Necesitamos un cambio total del sistema y una Revolución Regenerativa, ahora, si tenemos la esperanza de cambiar las cosas a tiempo.

Construyendo conciencia pública y  movimientos

Es muy incipiente el entendimiento acabado y la conciencia pública  de cómo funciona la fotosíntesis, de lo que significan la agroecología y la agrosilvicultura, de cómo las plantas y los árboles sanos y el ganado que pastorea de manera apropiada capturan y secuestran cantidades significativas de carbono en el suelo. No existe una comprensión acabada de cómo los sistemas alimentarios intensivos en productos químicos y combustibles fósiles de la gran agroindustria y la industria alimentaria son un factor fundamental en el calentamiento global ni de los múltiples beneficios de los alimentos, la agricultura y el uso de la tierra regenerativos.

La mayoría de los activistas climáticos aún se concentran en reducir el uso de combustibles fósiles. Todavía ignoran el hecho de que se necesitará una rápida conversión a energías renovables y una reducción masiva de dióxido de carbono de la atmósfera (especialmente aquí en el Sur Global) si queremos lograr emisiones netas cero para 2030 (y emisiones netas negativas de 2030 a 2050), como lo solicitó el Movimiento Sunrise y Bernie Sanders en los EE. UU., y varias coaliciones nacionales e internacionales para un Nuevo Acuerdo Verde.

Pero para ganar masa crítica, poder político y recursos suficientes debemos tanto en el norte como en el sur, dejar de entretenernos en campañas monotemáticas y reformas menores para construir un Movimiento cualitativamente más fuerte y más diverso. Para evitar la catástrofe y detener a los criminales corporativos y políticos fascistas del mundo, debemos unir todas las diferentes corrientes de nuestra resistencia local a global. Debemos crear una sinergia que cambie el mundo entre los electores y nuestras innumerables demandas de justicia económica, equidad social y energía renovable y nuestras demandas de transformaciones radicales y regenerativas en nuestras políticas alimentarias, agrícolas, forestales y de uso de la tierra.

Aumentando nuestro poder político

Desafortunadamente, muchos agricultores orgánicos y agroecológicos, organizaciones de alimentación y consumidores, y activistas agrícolas anti-OGM y contra las corporaciones alimenticias  todavía son apolíticos o temen ser llamados “radicales”.

Por ejemplo, demasiados consumidores y agricultores orgánicos en los Estados Unidos todavía se preguntan por qué deberían apoyar el cambio revolucionario, como el multimillonario Nuevo Acuerdo Verde o a un candidato presidencial radical como Bernie Sanders, que llama a la revolución política (justicia eco-social, atención médica universal y educación pública gratuita), así como energías renovables y un nuevo sistema alimentario basado en prácticas orgánicas regenerativas .

Lo que muchos de nuestros compatriotas bien intencionados pero a menudo ingenuos, tímidos o demasiado pesimistas no entienden es que sin un cambio radical en el poder político y las políticas públicas, incluidas las políticas financieras, que faciliten una inyección masiva de dinero público e inversiones privadas, nuestra creciente revolución orgánica y de regeneración probablemente se marchitará y morirá antes de florecer. 

Está claro que una transformación cultural y política tan drástica solo será posible con la participación masiva y el liderazgo de jóvenes, mujeres, afroamericanos, latinos y la clase trabajadora, llevando a cabo una Revolución en las urnas que incluya, pero no se limite a cuestiones  alimentarias, de agricultura y clima, que son factores de vida o muerte.

Una porción de mercado compuesta en un 10% a 25% de alimentos orgánicos y locales y carne y productos animales alimentados con pasto para 2030 es mejor que lo que tenemos ahora, pero no va a hacer mucha diferencia en un planeta quemado. Nuestra casa planetaria, como Greta Thunberg nos recordó una vez más esta semana en Madrid, está en llamas.

Sin una conciencia popular a nivel masivo  y una acción colectiva, sin una revolución política, así como una revolución energética y agrícola y un redireccionamiento de fondos, públicos y privados, los engaños comerciales de los multimillonarios, las corporaciones multinacionales (Bayer / Monsanto , Cargill, JBS, Wal-Mart, Amazon, Facebook, Google y otros) y el uno por ciento nos llevará más allá del punto de no retorno y nos destruirá a todos.

Con el fin de replicar y ampliar las prácticas de agricultura regenerativa y restauración de los ecosistemas que secuestran carbono y cambian las reglas del juego, y que finalmente están arraigando y extendiéndose a través de las Américas y el planeta (estas incluyen prácticas bio-intensivas orgánicas, agroecología, pastoreo holístico, agroforestería , permacultura, reforestación y biocarbono), necesitamos que todos los principales impulsores de la regeneración funcionen en sinergia y a toda potencia.

Como afirmamos en nuestra Asamblea General de Regeneration International del 10 de diciembre en Santiago:

Dada la emergencia climática a escala mundial sin precedentes y acelerada que nos acecha, los gobiernos globales y la sociedad civil deben priorizar, invertir y ampliar rápidamente lo siguiente:

  • Educación pública sobre el clima y la regeneración y un fuerte enfoque en la construcción de movimientos de base.
  • Rápida expansión de las prácticas existentes de agricultura regenerativa que promueven la restauración del ecosistema, la captura de carbono en los suelos y la seguridad alimentaria.
  • Reorientación de las políticas públicas para apoyar las prácticas agrícolas regenerativas y la restauración del ecosistema.
  • Reorientación de las prioridades económicas para facilitar un aumento cuantioso de la inversión pública y privada en prácticas regenerativas.

A pesar de las continuas malas noticias en el frente climático y el surgimiento de regímenes autoritarios y fascistas en América del Sur y en todo el mundo, nuestros pares aquí en Santiago han estado muy contentos de escuchar acerca de algunos de los acontecimientos positivos recientes en América del Norte, incluido el creciente apoyo para un Nuevo Acuerdo Verde y la campaña presidencial de Bernie Sanders, así como el crecimiento de grupos radicales, dirigidos por jóvenes y de acción directa como el Movimiento Sunrise, Extinction Rebellion y los Viernes para el Futuro.

En el corto lapso de 12 meses, la resolución del Nuevo Acuerdo Verde en los EE. UU. ha obtenido un apoyo total de jóvenes cuyos derechos se han visto coartados, comunidades minoritarias, electores situados de la clase trabajadora, el movimiento alimentario y activistas climáticos. La resolución, según varias encuestas, ahora cuenta con el apoyo de más del 60% de la población, a pesar de la oposición cada vez más frenética de Trump, los medios de comunicación corporativos y el ala neoliberal del Partido Demócrata, representado por Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama y multimillonarios como Michael Bloomberg.

La creciente comprensión de que en los Estados Unidos necesitamos un “cambio de sistema”, en otras palabras una revolución política, si queremos detener el cambio climático y resolver nuestras otras crisis candentes, se refleja en el llamado a una “Cuarta Transformación” en México, en el creciente movimiento para el derrocamiento de la junta del fascista Bolsonaro que niega el cambio climático y que quema el Amazonas en Brasil (ídem Bolivia, Honduras, China, Rusia, Arabia Saudita, Irán, Irak, etc.), y ahora la atronadora demanda de todos los sectores de la población para una Nueva Constitución y una revolución democrática en Chile.

Llevando la revolución a las calles

En estos días en Santiago, marchando y cantando con nuestros hermanos y hermanas chilenos en las derruidas calles del centro, con carteleras publicitarias destrozadas, estaciones de metro quemadas, escaparates rotos, semáforos estropeados, bancos, hoteles y negocios tapiados, se ha hecho más evidente  que el control de las élites y la continuidad del statu quo, al menos aquí en Chile, ya no son tolerables.

A lo largo de las principales calles, como la Avenida Providencia, las empresas familiares y de vecindario, en general, no han sufrido daños, pero los monumentos coloniales, los  edificios gubernamentales, tiendas Starbucks, McDonald’s, Oxxo, Domino’s Pizza, el Crown Plaza Hotel y otros símbolos del control de las multinacionales y el consumismo han sido pintados con spray, destrozados y vandalizados.

Chile, un país supuestamente próspero —la joya de “libre mercado” de América Latina de la política exterior de Estados Unidos (donde el presidente Nixon, Kissinger, AT&T y la CIA derrocaron al gobierno socialista democrático de Salvador Allende en 1973) -, hoy tiene el sentimiento surrealista de una distopía posmoderna. Cuadra tras cuadra, milla tras milla, con jóvenes antigubernamentales dirigiendo el tráfico en muchas de las intersecciones, cada muro de la ciudad central está cubierto de mensajes de resistencia y solidaridad, incluidas fotos desgarradoras de jóvenes manifestantes (de la edad de mi hijo) asesinados, cegados (los Carabineros habrían estado disparando deliberadamente balas de goma a los ojos de los manifestantes) y encarcelados.

La clase trabajadora, los mapuches indígenas, los agricultores y la clase media de Chile, liderados por jóvenes y estudiantes, se están levantando contra el uno por ciento, a pesar de la tremenda represión.

Mientras tanto, los glaciares que abastecen gran parte del agua y la agricultura de Chile se están derritiendo. Las temperaturas récord, los incendios forestales y la sequía se están extendiendo aquí y en toda América Latina. El domingo pasado, justo cuando miles de jóvenes manifestantes en bicicleta se juntaron frente la mansión del presidente Piñera pidiendo su renuncia y una nueva Constitución, estalló un incendio forestal gigantesco en una de las montañas gravemente deforestadas y secas que rodean la ciudad. La escena me recordó lo que está sucediendo en California, e incluso ahora en los bosques boreales de Canadá y Alaska.

Nuestro hogar colectivo, nuestra política y nuestro clima, están en llamas. Como dijo la activista de la India Arundhati Roy:

“Cada vez es más difícil comunicar la escala de la crisis incluso a nosotros mismos. Una descripción precisa corre el riesgo de sonar como una hipérbole … ”

Es tarde. La crisis es grave. Pero como aquellos de nosotros en el Movimiento de Regeneración entendemos, corazón y mente, todavía tenemos tiempo para cambiar las cosas. Pero el momento de actuar, educar, construir movimientos más fuertes, ampliar nuestras mejores prácticas y  ganar poder político es ahora.

Ronnie Cummins es miembro fundador del comité directivo de Regeneration International y cofundador y director internacional de la Asociación de Consumidores Orgánicos. Su nuevo libro, “Levantamiento de base: un llamado a la acción sobre el clima, la agricultura, la alimentación y un nuevo acuerdo verde”, saldrá en febrero de 2020. Para mantenerse al día con Regeneration International, suscríbase a nuestro boletín.

Regeneration International lanza Agricultores y ganaderos de EE.UU. para un Nuevo Acuerdo Verde

“Hoy, decenas de miles de jóvenes con el Movimiento Sunrise están uniendo las armas con las decenas de miles de agricultores y ganaderos en esta coalición histórica para exigir un Nuevo Acuerdo Verde que reinvierta en nuestras granjas familiares y les permitan ser los héroes que necesitamos para detener la crisis climática “. – Garrett Blad, Movimiento Sunrise, 18 de septiembre de 2019


WASHINGTON, D.C. – El 18 de septiembre, Regeneration International, con la Asociación de Consumidores Orgánicos (OCA) y Movimiento Sunrise, lanzó oficialmente la coalición nacional de agricultores y rancheros de EE. UU. para un Nuevo Acuerdo Verde.

Cinco miembros del Congreso de los Estados Unidos se unieron a la conferencia de prensa frente al Capitolio de los EE.UU. en Washington, D.C., para pedir un Nuevo Acuerdo Verde para los agricultores y ganaderos. (Lea el comunicado de prensa en inglés aquí).

Más temprano en el día, la coalición entregó una carta a cada miembro del Congreso, firmada por más de 500 granjas individuales y 50 organizaciones que representan a más de 10.000 agricultores y ganaderos, pidiéndole al Congreso que apoye la Resolución del Nuevo Acuerdo Verde y prometiendo trabajar con el Congreso para reformar la política alimentaria y agrícola de los Estados Unidos.

Representantes de Women, Food & Agriculture Network, Indiana Farmers Union y American Sustainable Business Council se unieron a la conferencia de prensa, que fue cubierta por varios medios de comunicación, incluidos Politico, The Hill, Civil Eats y FERN AgInsider.


La coalición se centrará en una reforma de políticas muy necesaria

Como el agricultor y escritor de Ohio, Gene Logdson, escribió en su artículo, “El mito del pequeño terrateniente hecho a sí mismo:”

Ninguna figura es más entrañable y duradera en la agricultura que el labrador solitario que se encuentra en el horizonte y que se alza con sus propias botas para el éxito financiero. El único problema es que no hay ocupación más dependiente de la cooperación de la sociedad y la naturaleza para lograr el éxito que la agricultura.

La “cooperación de la sociedad” debe incluir el apoyo político. Sin embargo, es difícil obtener apoyo político en los EE. UU. para los agricultores y ganaderos orgánicos y regenerativos, cuando la gran industria agrícola gasta más en hacer presión para conseguir políticas que apoyan sus prácticas degenerativas de monocultivos y fábricas de OGM que los grupos de presión para el sector de defensa, según informa Truthout .

Los esfuerzos de presión de los agronegocios generan subsidios por valor de miles de millones de dólares, que se destinan principalmente a los agricultores más grandes y ricos, cuyas prácticas contaminan nuestras vías fluviales, producen comida chatarra y destruyen la salud del suelo. De hecho, el 15% más grande de las empresas agrícolas recibe el 85% de los 25 mil millones de dólares gastados anualmente en subsidios agrícolas.

Como dijo el representante Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) en la conferencia de prensa de lanzamiento de los agricultores y rancheros de EE. UU. para un Nuevo Acuerdo Verde:

“Estamos pagando demasiado a las personas equivocadas para que cultiven los alimentos equivocados en los lugares equivocados”.


Empoderar a los agricultores para que trabajen para todos nosotros

¿Cómo compiten los agricultores y ganaderos regenerativos y orgánicos independientes con los grandes bolsillos de la gran industria agrícola por políticas que los ayuden y, por extensión, nos ayuden a todos? ¿Políticas que los capaciten para la transición a prácticas que mantengan limpia nuestra agua? ¿Políticas que nos den a más de nosotros un mejor acceso a alimentos más saludables? ¿Y políticas que restablezcan la estabilidad climática?

Esperamos que sea mediante la formación de una coalición de pressión de base que trabaje junto con, no solo en paralelo con, los movimientos de alimentos y salud natural, los movimientos de justicia social y económica, los ambientalistas y los activistas climáticos para presionar al Congreso para que apruebe un Nuevo Acuerdo Verde para los agricultores y ganaderos.

La semana pasada fue solo el comienzo. Ahora comienza el trabajo. La coalición trabajará para hacerse más grande y poderosa: desde su lanzamiento en septiembre, la coalición ha crecido para incluir 600 agricultores / ganaderos individuales y 52 organizaciones que representan un total de aproximadamente 20.000 agricultores.

Los miembros de la coalición ahora están organizando actividades de divulgación de agricultor a agricultor. Se desplegarán en sus comunidades para conectarse con consumidores, ambientalistas, grupos eclesiásticos y activistas climáticos, cualquiera que se preocupe por el futuro de nuestra comida y nuestro medio ambiente.

En última instancia, la coalición utilizará el poder de base que construye para trabajar con el Congreso, especialmente el Comité Asesor del Congreso de la coalición, para ampliar rápidamente el cambio en las políticas alimentarias y agrícolas de Estados Unidos. Los planes incluyen organizar sesiones informativas y audiencias del Congreso e invitar a los miembros del Congreso a visitar granjas regenerativas para ver por sí mismos cómo la agricultura regenerativa restaura la salud del suelo, incluyendo el potencial del suelo para secuestrar carbono y revitalizar las economías locales.

Siga estos enlaces (en inglés) para obtener más información sobre los agricultores y ganaderos de EE. UU. para un Nuevo Acuerdo Verde:

Cobertura de la prensa de los agricultores y ganaderos de EE. UU. para un Nuevo Acuerdo Verde

¿Qué son los agricultores y ganaderos de EE. UU. para un Nuevo Acuerdo Verde?

¿Cuáles son los objetivos políticos de la coalición?

¿Cómo puedo apoyar a los agricultores y ganaderos de EE. UU. para un Nuevo Acuerdo Verde?

Los agricultores y ganaderos estadounidenses pueden unirse a la coalición firmando esta carta.


Katherine Paul es directora de comunicaciones de Regeneration International. Para mantenerse al día con Regeneration International, suscríbase a nuestro boletín.


Nebraska Farmers, Ranchers Push for Green New Deal Policies

LINCOLN, Neb. – Agriculture is the fourth largest producer of climate pollution, and farmers and ranchers from across the U.S. have launched a campaign urging Congress to pass the Green New Deal, which supports regenerative family farm and ranching practices over industrial scale agribusiness.

Graham Christensen, who runs an independent farm in northeastern Nebraska, says farmers across the political spectrum are seeing the proposal as an opportunity to level the playing field.

“Farmers have a chance to be able to lead in reduction of greenhouse gases, as well as clean up the water, and at the same time develop a more nutritional food system that probably benefits their bottom line as well,” he states.

Christensen says 85% of the nation’s $25 billion farm subsidies go to the biggest 15% of businesses, which rely on factory farming, synthetic fertilizers, chemical pesticides and other practices linked to increased air and water pollution.

Christensen says supporting cleaner practices will produce healthier food and enrich soil by capturing more carbon.