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What is Regenerative Agriculture?
Regenerative agriculture is one of the most promising responses to climate change. The term,“regenerative agriculture” describes farming and grazing practices that reverse climate change by rebuilding soil organic matter and restoring degraded soil biodiversity, resulting in carbon drawdown while also improving the water cycle.Regenerative agriculture uses technologies that lead to healthy soil, capable of producing high quality, nutrient dense food. Land is improved, rather than degraded, which leads to productive farms and healthy communities and economies. It is dynamic and holistic, incorporating permaculture and organic farming practices, such as conservation tillage; cover crops; crop rotation; composting; and introduction of livestock. All of these practices increase food production and farmer profitability, as soil is improved.

Silvopasture. Cows grazing under the shade of trees. Photo 90821623 / Cows Grazing Trees © Deebrowning | Dreamstime.com

Accelerating Regenerative Agriculture in the Midwest
In July 2020, Pam Richart ofEco-Justice Collaborative, was selected to participate in the newly-created ten-person Agricultural Hub Team of RE-AMP, with representation from Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, North Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. RE-AMP is a network of over 140 environmental organizations and funders in the Midwest, working to equitably eliminate greenhouse gas emissions in the region by 2050. The network recognizes that it cannot reach its goal by working with energy policy alone.
The agricultural sector is known to generate about 10% of the total greenhouse gas emissions in the Midwest, and 40% of the cropland land in the U.S. is in RE-AMP’s footprint. The Agricultural Hub Team was charged with developing a regional strategy to equitably reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector to bring them to zero emissions by 2050.
Recommendations for specific strategies were developed with the input of farmers and scientists via research and interviews, and incorporated in Transforming Agriculture in the Midwest: Critical Responses to a Changing Climate, co-authored by Pam.

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