Yes Magazine Features Resilient Agriculture Farmers Ron and Maria Rosmann

Yes Magazine Features Resilient Agriculture Farmers Ron and Maria Rosmann

“Welcoming everybody to his farm on a searing August afternoon, Ron Rosmann lets the pleasantries go for 12 minutes before getting to the heart of things. Around him, about 70 growers sit like school kids on bales of hay, braced to hear him.

Rosmann has been farming organically for 36 years on western Iowa’s fertile hills, and his voice is as gravelly as the road that runs alongside his land. You might think farming without pesticides would get easier over time, but you’d be wrong. An impossibly rainy planting season and runaway giant ragweed have made this year his toughest yet.

“What are we experiencing?” he asks the group. “Warmer temperatures, more rainfall, warmer nights, 10 years in a row of cold, wet springs. I’m getting more and more nervous.”

The growers, all members of Practical Farmers of Iowa, or PFI, are here to learn how Rosmann copes. A rare alliance of organic and conventional farmers, their views on climate change run the gamut of opinion. They meet on different farms around the state to share practices and today have come out for a “field day” to observe how Rosmann and his family produce beef, pork, chickens, eggs, popcorn, and grains on 700 acres—without chemicals.


While long-term climate change is prompting growing activism, farmers like these often register its near-term effects first. It contributes to soil erosion and severe weather events. It has increased annual precipitation in Iowa at least 8% over the past century, according to the state Department of Natural Resources. And the effects keep multiplying.

The field day includes a hayrack tour of the Rosmanns’ pesticide-free fields. On one section, turnips are planted as a cover crop, and volunteer oats and barley also pop up. Down the road, the group visits naturally ventilated “hoop house” pig shelters: metal arcs covered with greenhouse plastic, in which deep cornstalk bedding decreases manure runoff risk. They stand in front of long compost mounds, where butterflies land as Rosmann describes how to balance straw and manure. The farmers end their tour back in the barn, dining on the Rosmanns’ organic coleslaw and pulled-pork sandwiches.”

Read more about Ron and Maria Rossman’s story here!


Climate Risk Management Workshops in October

Climate Risk Management Workshops in October

I’m looking forward to working close to home next month with farmers, technical advisors, researchers and eaters of all kinds at three events based in the Carolinas.  First up is the Carolina Meat Conference in Charlotte next week. Near the end of the month, I’ll teach at the Sustainable Agriculture Conference in Durham.

Butchering Demonstration from the 2019 Carolina Meat Conference

Close up of a Steer at the 2019 Carolina Meat Conference

The Carolina Meat Conference is a nationally recognized event, specifically focused on bringing together every part of the meat supply chain. Farmers, chefs, butchers, and industry leaders convene for two-days of unparalleled networking, hands-on training, and technical and business assistance.

The Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA) is a farmer-driven, membership-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that helps people in the Carolinas grow and eat local, organic food by advocating for fair farm and food policies, building systems that family farms need to thrive, and educating communities about local, organic agriculture.  

State Departments of Agriculture Call for Climate Resilience

State Departments of Agriculture Call for Climate Resilience

The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture adopted new policies on climate resilience at the group’s annual meeting in New Mexico, citing the need to safeguard the food and ag supply chain. The policy framework calls for more climate research and incentive programs that help the industry adapt to increasingly severe weather.

“We must accelerate our work on supporting environmental stewardship within the agricultural and food industry,” said Barb Glenn, the group’s CEO, in a statement.

Read more about these policy changes here!


NASDA is a nonpartisan, nonprofit association which represents the elected and appointed commissioners, secretaries, and directors of the departments of agriculture in all fifty states and four U.S. territories. NASDA grows and enhances agriculture by forging partnerships and creating consensus to achieve sound policy outcomes between state departments of agriculture, the federal government, and stakeholders.

Climate Change Denial is Expensive!

Climate Change Denial is Expensive!

Climate Change Denial is a VERY expensive policy position.  No matter how the we play it, we are going to have to invest dollars.  We can invest in transforming our use of energy or we can invest cleaning up the mess caused by our pollution of the atmosphere.  One choice puts us on the path to a resilient future, the other puts us a path down into ever greater chaos. Which do you choose? 

The Agriculture Department rolled out more than $3 billion in aid for farmers affected by wildfires, hurricanes, flooding and other natural disasters since 2018.

“Climate Change” by Faith Jin

“Farmers are eligible for up to $500,000 apiece for the hurricanes, wildfires, floods, and other disasters they faced in 2018 and this year, including Hurricane Dorian last weekend, said the USDA on Monday, with $3 billion in aid available. As it did in July for Trump tariff payments, the USDA set the maximum disaster payment at double the Congressional limit for farm subsidies.

The Trump administration is showering the Farm Belt with cash this year, creating some uneasiness within the sector about a potential backlash. The USDA estimated last month that direct federal payments would total $19.5 billion this year, the highest amount since 2005. The figure did not include the new disaster program nor a $3.63 billion tranche of trade-war payments possible in November. The first tranche of Trump payments, of up to $7.25 billion, is being paid now.

Enrollment for disaster payments will begin on Wednesday. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said the assistance “will ease some of the financial strain” caused by extreme weather. Farmers suffering damage from Hurricane Dorian are eligible for aid, said the USDA.” 

Read the rest of the article here


Farmers Don’t Need to Read the Science: They are Living It

Farmers Don’t Need to Read the Science: They are Living It

“FIREBAUGH, Calif. — Many farmers probably haven’t read the new report from the United Nations warning of threats to the global food supply from climate change and land misuse. But we don’t need to read the science — we’re living it.

Here in the San Joaquin Valley, one of the world’s most productive agricultural regions, there’s not much debate anymore that the climate is changing. The drought of recent years made it hard to ignore; we had limited surface water for irrigation, and the groundwater was so depleted that land sank right under our feet.

Temperatures in nearby Fresno rose to 100 degrees or above on 15 days last month, which was the hottest month worldwide on record, following the hottest June ever. (The previous July, temperatures reached at least 100 degrees on 26 consecutive days, surpassing the record of 22 days in 2005.) The heat is hard to ignore when you and your crew are trying to fix a broken tractor or harvest tomatoes under a blazing sun. As the world heats up, so do our soils, making it harder to get thirsty plants the water they need.

The valley’s characteristic winter tule fog is also disappearing, and winters are getting warmer. Yields of many stone fruits and nuts that feed the country are declining because the trees require cool winters and those fogs trap cool air in the valley. Warm winters also threaten the Sierra Nevada snowpack, which provides 30 percent of California’s water. We had a good wet winter this year, but a few years ago the snowpack was at its lowest level in 500 years. We also worry that last year’s record California wildfires, which blanketed the valley with smoke for weeks, might become the new normal. I don’t get sick much, but that summer I had a hard time breathing because of the congestion in my lungs.”

Read the rest of the article here!