Clean water. Healthy soil. Nutrient management.
These aren’t just buzzwords in the agri-food industry - they are the values farmers commit to each and every day to protect the land, address climate change and implement best practices that ensure a safe, healthy food supply for consumers.
Adopting and adapting to the latest conservation practices is critical for our agricultural industry. Not only are lawmakers talking about and advancing agricultural conservation policy changes at the state and federal level, but consumers are also becoming evermore tuned into the farm to fork journey, supporting agriculture and food businesses that prioritize sustainability. Those who have been early adopters of innovative conservation practices like cover crops or conservation tillage have seen those efforts pay off substantially over time. Now it’s time to make sure that the best practices and lessons learned from those early adopters can be shared and adopted across our industry.
At AgriGrowth, our members prioritize climate adaptation in our advocacy efforts, noting in our policy priorities that:
Efforts to mitigate climate change provide an opportunity for Minnesota’s farmers and agribusinesses to adopt best management practices that reduce emissions, sequester atmospheric carbon, and improve profitability. AgriGrowth supports science-based policy that incentivizes reduced emissions by farmers, agribusiness, and consumers and rewards steps taken to ameliorate short and long-term impacts of climate change.
Agriculture is a business at the end of the day, and we support science-based efforts that improve sustainability practices with each generation. Data collection is a big part of understanding the trends and outcomes that the latest conservation practices bring to agribusiness, and for farmers, there are a number of platforms to track soil health, carbon capture, and more. There is not a one-size-fits-all program that works for everyone, so it’s valuable for farmers to research and explore platforms that work best for their business.
As an organization, AgriGrowth members also collaborate to share and advocate for more farmer resources and partnership opportunities - whether through government or the private sector - to help mitigate financial risk and accelerate conservation practices. The Minnesota Corn Growers’ Innovation Grant Program and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Growth, Research, and Innovation (AGRI) Program are just two examples of programs that our industry uses to help accelerate conservation efforts. The Minnesota Legislature is also considering some additional funding this year including water quality certification and agricultural best management practices which could provide additional funding resources for Minnesota farmers.
What’s important to remember when we talk about conservation is that each farm and region is different, so being able to analyze trends, best practices and the results of those investments are all critical to farmers. Especially as changing practices and conservation efforts often include upfront costs, it’s vital to understand the short and long-term payoffs like improved profitability and crop yields. Collaboration also drives our efforts forward, and production agriculture and agribusiness are partnering to support shared sustainability goals.
What’s clear both anecdotally and through hard data is that early adopters have found success in their conservation investments, and now it’s time for all of our industry to move forward together. Enacting more rigorous conservation practices for our farmers and agribusiness will ensure Minnesota remains at the cutting edge of science-based sustainability practices that protect our environment, mitigate climate change and ensure maximum efficiency and profitability.
- Kristin Weeks Duncanson is an AgriGrowth Board Member and Owner of Highland Family Farms