Regenerative Grazing to Mitigate Climate Change (2020-2021)

Background

The 2018 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report states that previous climate change predictions were drastic underestimates and warming must be capped at 1.5 degrees to avoid extreme climate disruptions. There is potential for agriculture, representing 13.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, to cut its emissions and store additional CO2 in soil.

Cattle are the largest contributor to agriculture emissions, but recent research shows promising results for pasture-based carbon sequestration as a climate solution in the Southeastern U.S. This is further validated by Drawdown.org’s evaluation of climate solutions that includes silvopasture, regenerative agriculture, conservation agriculture and managed grazing all within the top 20 most impactful efforts.

Industrial cattle production is dominant in the United States but globally contributes only 10% of total beef produced. Targeting pastured cattle could build an agriculture emissions solution that prioritizes equity by supporting U.S. farmers (who are often excluded by USDA and Farm Bill policies) but is also globally applicable. Small-scale systems are more adaptable, while support for graziers assists rural economic development and resilience-building for the impacts of climate change.

Project Description

Building upon the work of the 2019-2020 project team, this team’s primary goal will be to facilitate a dramatic expansion in the adoption and success of regenerative grazing systems in North Carolina and the Southeast. The team will aim to create a robust ecosystem of financing, policy and technical expertise through collaboration with key community partners necessary to encourage and support this expansion. Through this network, team members will work to expand funding mechanisms for regenerative grazing (e.g., USDA Regional Conservation Partnership Program grants).

The team will also expand on existing partnerships with non-profits and government officials to promote policy innovations that place regenerative grazing infrastructure and producer access on equal footing with the dominant industrial model. Team members will continue to build partnerships with local universities, non-profits and businesses, and will initiate long-term research studies in collaboration with these partners, monitoring soil indices tied to ecological health and productivity of farms, watershed and regional natural resource concerns.

Anticipated Outputs

Peer-reviewed carbon offset protocol for pastured cattle operations; data collection and analysis; USDA grant submission in collaboration with the Triangle Land Conservancy, N.C. State and additional project partners; detailed GIS maps for implementation of regenerative grazing protocol; interactive website; policy reports; research reports; model legislation and regulations for federal and state governments

Timing

Summer 2020 – Spring 2021

  • Summer 2020: Submission of carbon offset protocol for validation; soil analysis; project development with grant partners; literature review update on co-benefits of regenerative grazing systems; policy report review
  • Fall 2019: Development and refining of model policies; website development; oral history documentation; grant application submission
  • Spring 2019: Final policy report publication; policy trip to Washington, DC (if possible); trips to research sites, conferences and workshops (if possible); finalization and publication of full digital platform and resources for farmers, scientists and policymakers

 

See earlier related team, Regenerative Grazing to Mitigate Climate Change (2019-2020).

Regenerative grazing.

Team Leaders

  • Matthew Arsenault, Duke Carbon Offsets Initiative
  • Emma Fulop, Duke Carbon Offsets Initiative
  • Daniel Miller, Duke Law
  • Michelle Nowlin, Duke Law
  • Leslie Wolverton, Duke Campus Farm

/yfaculty/staff Team Members

  • David Johnston, Nicholas School of the Environment-Marine Science and Conservation
  • Daniel Richter, Nicholas School of the Environment-Environmental Sciences and Policy

/zcommunity Team Members

  • Bonnie Ballard, J.D. Candidate, UNC-Chapel Hill
  • Jennifer Curtis, Firsthand Foods
  • Alan Franzluebbers, North Carolina State University
  • Eliza Lawdley, Triangle Land Conservancy, Williamson Preserve
  • Carolina Patterson, Adjunct Instructor, UNC-Chapel Hill
  • Mary Grace Phillips, Undergraduate Student, NC State University
  • Matt Poore, North Carolina State University
  • Johnny Rogers, Amazing Grazing
  • Cambria White, Undergraduate Student, NCCU
  • Nick Wood, Carolina Farm Stewardship Association