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Farmland Trust updates web tool for carbon tracking in ag

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The Carbon Reduction Potential Evaluation Tool, or CaRPE Tool, is American Farmland Trust’s web-based interactive tool that allows users to quickly visualize and quantify greenhouse gas, or GHG, emission reductions resulting from the implementation of a suite of cropland and grazing land conservation management practices. Today, the nonprofit released an updated CaRPE Tool, as well as releasing the first of a series of state-specific briefs that summarize the carbon benefits of climate-smart practices and provide state and federal policy recommendations to increase their adoption. These briefs are designed to help policy makers and land managers prioritize efforts for cost-effective climate benefits available from the agricultural sector.

Amid the growing climate debate, agriculture is in the enviable position of being an industry that has the potential to re-capture carbon from the atmosphere, something the major GHG-emitters like the electric and transportation industries are unable to do.

By some estimates, as much as one-third of the carbon in our atmosphere could be returned to the soil by increasing adoption of climate-smart farming systems worldwide. And with 10 percent of the planet’s arable land, the United States can make a global difference by doing so. Drawing carbon from the air and storing it in agricultural soils offers an immediately available, low-cost, and proven way to address climate change and offset emissions to reach net-zero.

According to American Farmland Trust, no other solution to climate change comes with more of the co-benefits we need for a sustainable future: resilient, viable, productive farms and ranches with improved bottom lines and lower risk; food security; flood control; improved water quality and quantity; biodiversity; and wildlife habitat, above and below ground.

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“States across the U.S. are moving urgently to implement strategies that reduce emissions in pursuit of net-zero through policy change, renewable energy infrastructure build out and electric vehicle mandates. The reauthorization of the federal Farm Bill is just around the corner,” said Bianca Moebius-Clune PhD, AFT Climate Initiative Director. “Agriculture is an immediately available, affordable, and necessary tool to reduce emissions and solve the climate crisis and deploying it is a win-win for producers and society. Leaving these opportunities on the table does not make sense, yet it has not been easy to determine what implementing agricultural solutions will cost and what benefits they will bring.”

The state-specific briefs provide recommendations to state leaders and elected officials on how to advance policies and programs to increase the adoption of these critical climate-smart systems. In addition, they demonstrate how adoption of these practices can contribute to state and national climate emissions reduction goals.

The first in this series published today are for Virginia, Illinois, New Hampshire and Oregon where great opportunities to adopt policies to advance the adoption of climate smart systems of practices exist. AFT will also release a brief for Michigan that focuses on 2023 Farm Bill recommendations to complement these state-level actions. Full reports providing more detailed methods and results that informed the briefs will be released soon. AFT expects to release more state-specific briefs with emissions reductions estimates from the adoption of climate smart practices, and recommendations for how state policy makers can work to support farmers in increasing adoption.

“Farmers and ranchers are on the frontlines of climate change, and yet they also may be the key to offer one of the best pathways available to address the climate crisis while building their resilience to extreme weather and improving their bottom lines,” said Samantha Levy, AFT’s Conservation and Climate Policy Manager.

The CaRPE Tool has been available from AFT since fall of 2020 and used by states to build working lands solutions into climate mitigation plans and state soil health efforts. Recent updates to the tool allow users to view data by USDA Farm Resource Regions (in addition to seeing results by counties and states) and get the weighted emission reduction coefficient (county and practice-specific tonnes of CO2e per acre per year) for their scenarios and map these coefficients, among other updates.

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