Growing the Future

The world will need to grow more food in the next 30 years than we did in the previous 10,000— all while adapting to climate change and preventing future warming. 

At COP 26 on Saturday, Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and S2G Ventures’ Sanjeev Krishnan discussed how cutting-edge agriculture solutions are poised to do exactly that.

Some takeaways from their conversation: 

The industry can no longer choose between sustainability and productivity. The world needs to increase the productivity of our farms with less water, less land and a changing climate — without requiring farmers to take on the cost of new climate-friendly tools, which 90% of family farms can’t afford. Investing in innovation, said Vilsack, will make this possible, as he promoted $25 million to fund 18 different projects in the U.S. to reduce emissions from farming. 

Agriculture is at the center of climate-friendly solutions. From transportation to construction, agriculture has a role to play. Vilsack and Stabenow touched on how biofuels will help transform transportation and how methane can substitute for water in concrete. 

The food transition is just beginning. Secretary Vilsack also highlighted the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate, a recently announced partnership between the U.S. and UAE. The partnership has already raised $4 billion to invest in innovation in sustainable agriculture, with the hope of growing it to $8 billion by COP 27. 

Attitudes toward climate change are changing. Stabenow referenced the House of Representatives’ 2009 climate bill, which not a single agriculture group supported. Fast forward to today, when a large majority of agriculture and conservation organizations support climate-related legislation like the Growing Climate Solutions Act, passed earlier this summer with 92 senators in favor. Organizations and legislators alike are now interested in climate solutions, including ones that bring agriculture into the conversation.