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Our food and farming system is facing a reckoning — a global pandemic that upended supply chains and unearthed the horrific consequences of a consolidated meatpacking industry, climate change threatening food production across the country, fertilizer shortages, rising prices at the grocery store and a sector that accounts for 10% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.
Our current agricultural system is failing us. It's high time we build toward a stronger, healthier, more equitable and more resilient one.
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) report "Regenerative Agriculture: Farm Policy for the 21st Century" details an alternative vision of what agriculture can be — one that can respond better to external shocks (such as a pandemic), combat climate change by embracing Indigenous growing principles, protect biodiversity by managing farms and ranches as ecosystems, and support competition while putting decision-making power back into the hands of independent farmers and ranchers.
NRDC interviewed more than 100 farmers and ranchers from 47 states and Washington, D.C., to learn more about regenerative agriculture and the barriers to and opportunities for practicing it on more acres.
The team used qualitative analysis software to analyze interviews for themes and developed policy solutions to address the themes that emerged. Overwhelmingly, interviewees shared the ways federal agricultural policy disproportionately serves industrial agriculture over regenerative agriculture.