November 2021

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Farmer-Led Climate Policy That Works For Farmers

Farmer Leader Spotlight

Curt Mether, president of RIPE’s board of directors and third-generation farmer

Industry and community involvement: Previously served as president of Iowa Corn Growers Association and is an active member of Iowa Soybean Association, Iowa Farm Bureau, National Corn Growers Association, U.S. Grains Council and American Green Gas.

On the farm: I farm 1,400 acres with my wife, Anita. We grow corn and soybeans and use no-till, cover crops, and other practices that invest in soil health and water quality.

What impact would the RIPE100 plan have on farmers? There is no doubt ag can play a huge role in climate change but also in every aspect of the environment. So every practice that farmers do will help with water quality, air quality, soil erosion and soil structure, making it absorb and hold water better to even help with flood mitigation.

Farmers enrolled in RIPE will be able to recover the extra expenses from climate legislation and be able to do more of the practices that are in the RIPE roadmap, and the more farmers that participate, the better the effects will be.

What is your favorite movie or music artist? Most classic rock and roll from the ’50s to the ’80s, and country, like George Strait, Alan Jackson, Clint Black and artists from that era. I like almost any action movie, and “Diehard” is my favorite Christmas movie.

Watch the video below to learn more about why Curt supports RIPE.

Farmer Curt Mether: ‘One of the Things I Like About RIPE Is It's Voluntary With Incentives’

RIPE Expands Livestock Options in Proposed Qualifying Practices

RIPE’s researchers consistently work to gather data on the environmental value of existing protocols for climate-smart agricultural practices to expand the list of practices that demonstrate over $100/acre so that farmers of all types and sizes can implement and participate in the proposed program.

Recently, we added two new livestock practices to our list of proposed qualifying measures: Nutrient Management (NRCS Code 590) and Feed Management (NRCS Code 592). These practices are both valued at over $100/acre or animal unit, as supported by USDA research and academic literature. Like most conservation practices, Nutrient Management is valued per acre. Practices like Feed Management provide feedlot operators the opportunity to contribute to environmental benefits at the animal unit level.

We found that farmers who incorporate or inject manure according to Nutrient Management guidelines provide nearly $1,000 per acre in environmental benefits each year. That includes over $700 in improved air quality. This practice also improves water quality and reduces soil carbon loss.

Farmers who manage the nutrients in their livestock feed can also provide tremendous environmental benefit. Feed Management provides an average environmental value of over $500 per animal unit. The majority of this value comes from improved air quality and human health benefits. Other benefits include reduced greenhouse gas emissions and water pollution.

RIPE’s proposal would compensate these practices at $100/acre in the pilot and phase 1, and in the expanded phase of the program, the compensation level would likely increase to better reflect the tremendously high value delivered by these practices.

Review our methodology and sources here, and find the full list of RIPE’s current qualifying practices here.

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In speaking with legislators, RIPE has learned that most are open to the RIPE100 policy idea but need to hear from farmers.

76% of farmers support a climate policy that pays $100 per acre for voluntary adoption of conservation practices.

78% of farmers support a policy that pays for practices that improve soil health and water quality as well as carbon capture over a policy that pays solely for carbon capture.

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

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RIPE’s farmer-led Steering Committee discusses and establishes the principles for the policy design. It’s a continuous conversation, and we invite more farmers to join the conversation, including with this month’s survey.

Here are our current policy principles:

  1. Allows producers to receive a reasonable return with payment levels that surpass policy costs, including the full cost to implement voluntary stewardship practices plus indirect costs impacted by climate regulations such as higher fuel and fertilizer costs.

  2. Enables all farmers to participate in an equitable, farmer-friendly program that is simple and practical.

  3. Rewards early actors and demonstrates greenhouse gas “additionality,” allowing all farmers, regardless of their prior actions, to participate.

  4. Does not compete for funds against existing safety net programs.

Please give your feedback on these principles by participating in this month’s survey below!

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Steering Committee & Outreach News

RIPE in the Field

Together with our steering committee members and other farmer leaders, the RIPE outreach team looks forward to connecting with more of the ag community by attending and supporting several upcoming in-person and virtual events. If you plan on being at one of these events, please let us know so that we can connect in person!

Nov. 17-18: Sustainable Agriculture Summit, Las Vegas. Three of RIPE’s farmer leaders — Kara Boyd, John Boyd, and Meredith Ellis — will be featured as a breakout panel to discuss the key role farmers play in building a resource-positive future, rethinking the current carbon and conservation models, and sharing more about the RIPE100 plan.

Nov. 19-21: Minnesota Farmers Union Annual Convention, Minneapolis. RIPE board of directors Vice President Eunie Biel and Midwest Agricultural Organizer Matt Ohloff will visit with MFU members to share more about RIPE’s work.

Dec. 5-7: USA Rice Outlook Conference, New Orleans. RIPE Ag Outreach Director Jamie Powers and rice influencers from around the country will gather to support Arkansas Rice in developing and strengthening relationships with other grower-leaders as well as building support for RIPE’s work.

Dec. 8-9: Prairie Grains Conference, Grand Forks, ND. North Dakota Grain Growers Association First Vice President Ed Kessel leads planning for the conference, which will be supported by RIPE Ag Outreach Director Jamie Powers as RIPE builds momentum in the north.

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

RIPE in the News

RIPE made major headlines this month! Across newspapers, news websites, TV, radio and podcasts, the buzz about RIPE is building, thanks to numerous articles and interviews with RIPE leaders! News outlets across the country are giving highly favorable reviews to the RIPE approach. Check out a recent three-part Farm Press series on the RIPE100 policy, an interview with RIPE steering committee chair Brandon Hunnicutt on WNAX as well as interviews with RIPE Executive Director Aliza Wasserman-Drewes on Adams on Agriculture and RFD-TV, coverage in Successful Farming and Progressive Farmer and more!

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RIPE Submits Comments to USDA, Will Circulate With Congress and White House - RIPE submitted comments to USDA’s request for information on how to design a climate-smart agricultural program. We emphasized the need to create a pilot program and research agenda to design a program that can deliver a reasonable return for farmers. We will be circulating this submission with key Congressional offices and members of the presidential administration and ask for meetings in the next month to solicit feedback and continue the conversation.

Congress Significantly Expands USDA Cost-Share Programs But Does Not Offer Reasonable Return on Policy Costs - The Build Back Better bill significantly increases funding for existing USDA conservation programs for climate-smart practices, and we applaud the increased support of conservation, but those are all cost-share programs so we know that a new type of program is needed that allows farmers to earn a reasonable return.

At an average of $20 per acre, the current stewardship and carbon plans do not pay farmers for the total value of their environmental contributions, nor do they cover the cost to adopt practices plus the increased input costs due to climate policy. That is why RIPE is advancing a new type of program that allows farmers the opportunity to fairly prosper from their investments in shared natural resources.

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