The second Rural Climate Network newsletter was released last week, featuring updates on how rural America is responding to the climate challenge. Since the first newsletter, the network has welcomed five new member organizations that represent the diversity of climate work across the country and display how climate change impacts sectors ranging from fisheries to forestry to meat production. The member spotlight this month is Organic Valley, and a featured interview with Sustainability Program Manager Jonathan Reinbold outlines the organization’s views on climate change. Policy that incentivizes this kind of on-the-ground work is critical in supporting the growing rural movement to adapt to and mitigate climate change.
This edition of the newsletter also features a brief interview with Renata Brillinger of the California Climate and Agriculture Network (CalCAN) to better understand how California farmers and ranchers are handling the drought that is currently underway in California. According to Brillinger, “mandated cutbacks in water distributions, along with depletions in available surface water and groundwater, are forcing farmers to dig deeper into their pockets while making tough decisions about crop planting and livestock management.” Some farmers have resorted to pumping groundwater to compensate for the lack of water elsewhere, but that is not a sustainable strategy in the long term should the drought persist and other ideas are needed.
Certain agricultural practices work to increase soil resiliency and keep the raindrop where it falls more effectively than others. For instance, crop rotation and crop diversification encourage increased water-holding capacity in soils and reduce the amount of runoff that occurs from monocropped soils. Particular crops are also less water-intensive than others, and farmers would benefit from increasing the amount of hardy crops grown on their land.
However, Brillinger is right on point when she says, “while there are actions individual growers can take to cope with drought and other climate change impacts, this is not just a farmer’s problem.” In order to encourage an agricultural system that remains resilient in the face of extreme weather events, farmers need technical and financial assistance to build soil health and water efficiency. With today’s stalled farm policy, it is more important than ever to advocate for policies that will incentivize sustainable, robust farm operations.
Sign up for future editions of the Rural Climate Network newsletter and learn more about what member organizations are doing regarding climate change in their communities at www.ruralclimatenetwork.org. If you are involved with an organization that would be a good fit for the network or would like to add your voice to this growing movement in another way, please email email@example.com.