Making America's Rivers Blue Again: Connecting the Dots Between Regenerative Agriculture and Healthy Waterways

Building a regenerative food system where bees buzz, dragonflies hover, and fish and frogs thrive will begin when we change hearts and minds. Fake meats and GMO soy are not the answer. Two hundred years ago, before the Industrial Revolution, the rivers across North America ran clear and blue. Rivers from the mighty Mississippi to the Columbia flowed wild and clean into the sea. In the 1800s and 1900s, the growth of manufacturing and agriculture across the continent brought prosperity to America, but at the great cost of unmitigated pollution. In 1969, Ohio’s Cuyahoga River caught fire due to toxic runoff from nearby factories. This incident sparked the modern Earth Day movement and in 1972 helped pass the Clean Water Act, which established much-needed industrial regulations that considerably improved water quality in the United States. Unfortunately, lawmakers overlooked the negative impacts of agriculture on America’s waterways. Continue reading

Ho-Chunk, Inc. executive joins Biden Administration

WINNEBAGO, Neb. (KTIV) - An enrolled member of the Winnebago Tribe has been tapped to join the Biden Administration as the Deputy Solicitor for Indian Affairs. According to a press release, Ann Marie Bledsoe Downes, Ho-Chunk, Inc.'s Executive Vice President of Community Impact and Engagement, will be the Indian Affairs legal team lead at the Department of the Interior. Continue reading

Nebraska senator seeks to create 'Farm-to-School' network for student lunches

A Nebraska lawmaker introduced a bill Thursday to expand partnerships between local school districts and local producers to feed students. The bill (LB396), brought by Sen. Tom Brandt of Plymouth, would create a "Farm to School Network" administered by the Nebraska Department of Education and the Nebraska Department of Agriculture. It would connect school administrators and cafeteria managers with farmers, market gardeners and other producers to supply school lunches with fresh produce, dairy and meat products. Brandt called the legislation "Economic Development 101." Continue reading

Why Aren’t USDA Conservation Programs Paying Farmers More to Improve Their Soil?

Soil health is crucial to fighting climate change, but a new study finds that funding to support it in the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is lacking.  Ron Rosmann’s 700-acre certified organic grain and livestock farm in Shelby County, Iowa is an island in a sea of very large conventional soy or corn operations. Farmers in the area don’t typically pay a lot of attention to the health of their soil—which has, on occasion, eroded onto his property. Others in the area operate concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). It’s not uncommon, for example, for one of his neighbor’s cattle manure lagoons to overflow into a nearby creek. While Rosmann is pleased that more farmers there are adopting cover crops to reduce erosion and runoff, it still only amounts to roughly 4 percent of Iowa farms. And he laments that the pace of change toward conservation practices is simply too slow given the region’s mounting water quality concerns. Continue reading

21 Predictions for 2021: Twenty-one visionary climate and justice leaders point the way to progress in the year ahead.

We’ll grow strong regional food systems Graham Christensen Founder and president of GC Resolve CLOSE “As global supply chains fracture and grocery store shelves dry up, consumer demand for local products is growing. Nebraska is seeing new energy around legislation that supports a decentralized network of meatpacking plants, which could help enforce worker safety, generate revenue for small ranchers, and strengthen regional marketplaces. With that comes more opportunities for regenerative agriculture, which cultivates soil health and draws down carbon. But local, sustainable farming means so much more than that. It creates food security. It fosters relationships between rural and urban entrepreneurs. It connects consumers with farmers. It even protects clean water. I’m looking forward to all of those things coming to fruition now that public support is strong and we have an administration that’s willing to fight for them.” Continue reading

Regenerative agriculture is nothing new: why Nebraskans are engaging in sustainable farming

Fernanda Krupek, an agronomy graduate research assistant at UNL, testing soil for the Soil Health Initiative. Photo courtesy of Fernanda Krupek. Clay Govier, a fifth-generation Nebraskan farmer, used to spray herbicides on his family farm’s crops every summer. Strangely, he started noticing himself acting meaner every year around the application time. After talking to an older farmer who experienced the same issues, the two usually-friendly farmers connected the dots. “You start realizing how these herbicides are impacting your endocrine system, which is your emotion,” Govier said. His personal discovery is backed by scientific research: many chemicals that are endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDTs) are found in pesticides, according to research from the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. Govier thought more about the issue. Even pesticides, which are intended to kill just earthworms and other bugs, could negatively affect the health of the crops he’s growing, the animals who eat them and the people who eat both. “So you start talking about the soil web and food web. Just how all of these things are interconnected,” he said. After these realizations, he decided to cut his chemical use to prevent harm to both his own health and the environment. If he continued, he would be the most likely on the farm to get cancer from the exposure to chemicals, he said. Continue reading

A return to tradition: How Nebraska farmers are adapting to regenerative farming

Nebraska is one of the key states for farming in the United States which, according to the Nebraska Agriculture Fact Card from the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, is the number one beef and veal exporter, third-highest producer of corn and the fourth highest in soybean production. Despite these rankings, some Nebraska farmers are concerned about the effects that traditional farming practices are having on the environment. “Nitrous oxide is on the rise,” said Graham Christensen, president and founder of GC Resolve and vice president of Christensen Farms, Inc. “It’s much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide is.” Because of the increase in emissions, some farmers are turning to regenerative farming as a solution. Regenerative farming is a technique of farming where conservation practices such as increasing biodiversity, improving irrigation, planting cover crops, not tilling the ground and others are utilized. Continue reading

Nebraska Agriculturalist Fight Climate Change

The population of the world is rising and with it the amount of food needed to feed the world. With climate change continuing to be an issue, some farmers and ranchers are changing the way they produce food.   Regenerative agriculture is a way of producing food that mimics nature and works to improve soil health. Soil health is placed above all else in a regenerative practices even production rates.     Continue reading

Coalition forms amid pandemic to advocate for structural change in rural U.S.

by Laura Thomas, Graham Christensen, Rob Wallace, and John Gulick The writing has been on the wall for years. The industrial agricultural system has been on the brink of collapse for some time, being only one major disrup- tion or a series of disruptions away from catastrophe. COVID-19 was, in fact, that catastrophic disruption.   After a culmination of historic weather events and political mishaps already sinking the agricultural economy, the virus was all that was needed to unleash the unfathomable into the day-to-day fabric of our lives, exacerbating the severity of the ongoing farm crisis and accelerating the decay of the modern food production system. Continue reading

RegeNErate Nebraska Virtual Farm Tour #1

  We are proud to release our latest communications work, the 1st RegeNErate Nebraska Virtual Farm Tour.  In this video, Billy Alward takes us for a short trip around his farm and shows us how he is regenerating the land as part of his business practice.  Alward also discusses the primary challenge presented by COVID-19, which is access to local processing, and he helps us understand why the Legislature must prioritize State Inspection of Meat. Continue reading