January 2022

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Farmer-Led Climate Policy That Works For Farmers

RIPE’s 2021 in Review: A Year for Growth and Gearing Up

Hi <<First Name>>, 2021 was a busy year at RIPE and your support was instrumental in our success! Last year, we launched our Farmer Advisory Network (FAN) with farmers interested in helping advance the policy and added five organizations to our steering committee. We also met with 20 legislators, many of whom are open to our proposal — but asked to hear from farmers. We look forward to building on our success in 2022 with your help! To see more highlights from the year, take a look at this video roundup we prepared.

Rural Investment to Protect Our Environment (RIPE): 2021 Year in Review

As we look to the year ahead, we are excited and optimistic about new and continuing efforts to advance this policy. Want to help? Contact Ag Outreach Director Jamie Powers for information.

We thank you for your support and wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!

— Brandon Hunnicutt, RIPE steering committee chair

Farmer-Leader Spotlight

Jimmy Emmons, RIPE steering committee member and third-generation farmer

Eunie Biel receives award from MFU president Gary Wertish

Industry and community involvement: Vice president of No-Till on the Plains and coordinator for mentoring with Oklahoma Conservation Commission. Jimmy is a renowned soil health champion and can often be found sharing his knowledge through workshops and field days on his farm.

On the farm: Jimmy and his wife Ginger have farmed together in Oklahoma since 1980. They have a diverse 2,000 acre cropping operation, a 250 cow/calf herd and custom graze yearling cattle on nearly 6,000 acres of native range.

What impact would the RIPE100 plan have on farmers? I believe it could have the most positive impact for producers and the environment of any policy ever written.

Why did you decide to join the RIPE steering committee? I decided to join the RIPE team because I feel like it’s one of the best ways to form policy. From the ground up, it’s the first producer program that had actual producer input on the language and practices.

What’s your favorite movie or music artist? My favorite movie is “The Sting” with Redford and Newman. Hank Williams Jr. for music. I also like AC/DC or anything Eddie Van Halen plays.

Learn more about Jimmy and other farmer-leaders who guide the RIPE100 policy.

RIPE100 Would Let Farmers Decide How Climate-Friendly Practices Can Work For Them

Existing climate-friendly cost-share programs hurt farmers’ bottom lines, discouraging participation. Nebraska farmer-leader and RIPE steering committee Chair Brandon Hunnicutt explains how RIPE is vital to reversing that trend.

Problem With Climate Policies: ‘Farmers Aren't Going to Make a Decision That's Going to Cost Them’

Farmer input is a cornerstone of the RIPE100 policy. As we continue to build the proposal, your input is crucial. In this month’s four-question survey, we invite you to take a couple minutes to share your experiences with conservation practices so far, weigh in on practices you’d like to implement and more.

Thank you for your help in making the RIPE100 plan work for all farmers!

Start Survey

Climate policy will increase input costs like fuel and fertilizer. The increase average across corn, soy, wheat, cotton, rice and other other field grains, and oilseed is estimated to be $11 per acre in 2023. The RIPE100 policy proposal would pay $100 per acre or animal unit for stewardship, which allows for a reasonable return after compensation for rising input costs and the full cost of adopting a practice like cover crops. The $100 per unit level also delivers a good deal for the public because it reflects the total value of environmental benefits that farmers deliver when implementing climate-smart practices.

chart: Climate policy raises input costs

Are you interested in learning more about how to help advance this policy? Contact Ag Outreach Director Jamie Powers.

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Farmer Engagement News

RIPE in the Field

Jan. 4-7: National No-Tillage Conference, Louisville, Ky. - RIPE VP Martin Barbre will join steering committee member Jimmy Emmons in connecting with fellow growers at the conference.

March 10-12: Commodity Classic, New Orleans - Most of the RIPE steering committee as well as RIPE staff and some FAN members will be in attendance. If you are in town, that would be a great time to connect with us to learn more about our work or just say hello!

You’re Invited!

Invitation for RIPE100 policy proposal webinar - Feb. 23

Know someone in your commodity organization who would be interested in the RIPE100 policy? Forward this email!

RIPE in the News

Ed Kessel, vice president and a steering committee representative for North Dakota Grain Growers Association, recently discussed his support of RIPE, shared the policy’s key principles and more on the “Farm Talk” podcast from the Prairie Grains Conference in Bismark as well as on Red River Farm Network.

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RIPE tracks the Congressional policy landscape, and is focused on developing key relationships with policymakers to help them create policy that works for farmers. Here are recent insights we’ve gained.

Congress has proposed a program that would pay producers $25 per acre to plant cover crops - which is a great signal, but does not go far enough. The proposed Build Back Better bill includes a provision for compensating cover crops at $25 per acre, up to 1,000 acres. We applaud legislators for elevating the conversation around the positive impact farmers can have on climate. However, at the proposed payment level, it would not cover the costs imposed by climate policy and many farmers would still incur a net loss of around $12 per acre from implementation costs, since cover crops often cost $37 per acre. The RIPE100 program would build on this program by offering a payment level that surpasses both the full practice cost and the cost of climate policy, offering farmers a reasonable return on their investment. RIPE100 would also eliminate acreage caps, allowing producers to adopt practices at a scale that is right for them. And because RIPE100 complements existing programs, farmers would be able to receive payments from multiple programs, up to the value of public benefits their practices provide.

Despite election year gridlock, lawmakers will be anxious to score bipartisan wins in 2022. While partisan gridlock is the new norm in D.C., there are reasons to be hopeful about 2022. Since 1947, Congress has consistently passed more legislation in election years than in off years. Given the Democratic party's priority to pass climate policy, if farmers mobilize quickly, it could be a year to advance a bipartisan bill. We recognize that it may take longer to organize the coalition, but it also is possible. Policymakers on both sides of the aisle tell us their doors are open to RIPE’s approach. The key variable is how quickly they hear from farm groups about their interest in this pathway.

RIPE’s model fits Vilsack’s goals of a climate-smart ag program that works for farmers. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently talked to a RIPE steering committee member and shared his goals for a climate-smart agriculture program. We believe it perfectly fits what RIPE is proposing. He wants USDA to support commodity producers to adopt climate-smart practices in a manner that does not penalize early adopters, provides a premium, offers a simple process and supports increasing productivity to feed a growing global population. RIPE100 does all of this! We will be developing a pilot program proposal for the forthcoming USDA partnership program.

Stay connected with us on Facebook and Twitter — and be sure to tag us in your posts with #RIPE100 so we can reshare!