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June 2022

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RIPE100 policy proposal: $100/acre or animal unit for stewardship

RIPE Steering Committee Grows With National Sorghum Producers

“For the RIPE100 policy proposal to become a reality, it needs the support of as many producers as possible. We are thrilled to take this significant step in expanding our reach with the addition of our first national commodity organization on the steering committee,” said RIPE Vice President of Engagement and Government Relations Martin R. Barbre. “With National Sorghum Producers on board, we continue to diversify perspectives and bring new viewpoints to the conversation for how to best build a producer-led climate policy that will benefit farmers, ranchers and the public.

Read on to learn why NSP supports our work.

Producer-Leader Spotlight

Rachel Gray, RIPE steering committee representative for Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association and Minnesota rancher

Rachel Gray headshot courtesy AgUpdate.com

On the farm: Rachel is a fifth-generation cattle producer in Blackduck, Minnesota. After teaching for 14 years, she returned full-time to the farm where she works alongside her husband, parents, uncle, and her son and his family. Little Timber Farms’ mission is to raise cattle on grass, improve soil and water quality, and pass the farm on to the next generation. She continued her father's legacy of turning great grasses into protein for people after he converted cropland to rotational grazing pastures. Little Timber also has buffers along its waterways, pollinator plots, windbreaks, and wildlife habitat throughout the land.

Industry and community involvement: Rachel participates in Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom and CommonGround Minnesota sharing information about farming and food. She is also chair of the Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association (MNSCA) Cow-Calf Board.

Why did you decide to participate on the RIPE Steering Committee? On our farm, we have been using conservation practices for many years. I made the effort to participate on the committee so that the voice of livestock producers could be heard. I feel that being on the offense is important. So many times programming for farmers comes from the top down, and with this program, I feel like we have a chance to build something from the perspective of the farmer.

What impact would the RIPE100 policy have on farmers and ranchers? I believe that the impact will be twofold. The first piece is education. As we move forward, I hope that farmers and ranchers learn about new practices that they can adopt to improve soil health and conservation on their farms.

The second impact is economical. I hope that once producers see the economic benefit to the practice, not just the payment, but the benefits of putting the practice on their farm, that it will cause the producer to be more financially independent and as such increase the economic benefit to communities. For example, if a producer can put a rotational grazing system into place and then see more profits due to that system increasing stocking rates, the producer is likely to pass that added income on to the community by way of purchasing more goods and services.

What are you reading, watching or listening to lately? Lately I have Shane Smith and the Saints, Riddy Arman and Green Day on my playlist. I am reading a book called “The Windjammers” by Oliver Allen. My Dad, niece, brother and I are going on a sailing adventure off the coast of Maine in August, so it seemed fitting.

Learn more about our steering committee members here.

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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 the latest insights.

SEC Advances Climate Reporting Creating Higher Farm Costs, Which RIPE100 Would Protect
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued a proposed rule that would require companies to provide climate-related information in their registration statements and annual reports. While only publicly traded companies would need to report, the rule would impact producers because it requires companies to report their supply chain impacts, meaning manufacturers and retailers will press producers to document their climate impacts. This will likely lead to more pressure on producers to also improve their climate impacts.

Based on the decades of experience that farmers have with sustainability pressures from downstream companies, the latter are likely to create preferential purchasing for climate-friendly production and are highly unlikely to pay producers for those measures. Producers will confront several costs and liabilities, such as reporting obligations, technical challenges, financial and operational disruption and the threat of litigation. The RIPE100 program would fully protect producers from these types of climate policy costs, because the policy is explicitly designed to set payment rates above all policy costs, including impact from climate policies and practice adoption.

Senate Ag Committee Hearing in AR Offers Key Opportunity to Share RIPE Message
Senate Ag Committee leaders will attend the second farm bill field hearing at 9 a.m. June 17 at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, Arkansas. Witnesses and topics have yet to be released. RIPE staff have reached out to Senate minority staff asking them to consider RIPE as a witness and for them to discuss RIPE’s core principles while debating conservation issues. RIPE staff members will attend the event. If you are able to join us and spread the word about RIPE through questions and conversations, we would appreciate your support! Contact RIPE VP of Outreach and Government Relations Martin Barbre at MBarbre@RIPEroadmap.org.

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RIPE Welcomes Attia Little, Director of Finance and Operations

Please join us in welcoming Attia Little to the RIPE team as our director of finance and operations! Attia is a nonprofit operations professional with over 18 years of experience leading staff and supporting stakeholders at multiple levels. She has prioritized working for mission-driven organizations to assist in overcoming the struggles, clutter and tediousness of day-to-day operations through practical, sustainable processes and systems that improve team efficiency, communications and work quality. She is excited to be joining RIPE, and we are thrilled to have her! Learn more about the RIPE team.

RIPE In the Field

Together with our steering committee and FAN members, 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!

June 17: National Black Growers Council (NBGC) Model Farm Field Day, Pine Bluff, Arkansas. RIPE Southeast and Equity Outreach Coordinator Andre Carter will be on hand to show RIPE’s appreciation for NBGC’s support of our Climate-Smart Commodities pilot proposal to the USDA. We hope to engage many new farmers in the South during the event! Visit nationalblackgrowerscouncil.com for details.

Are you interested in having a member of the RIPE team speak with your ag organization or support an event? Contact Ag Outreach Director Jamie Powers.

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A Closer Look RIPE’s Qualifying Practices: Cover Crops

RIPE’s researchers continually work to expand the set of practices that would qualify for a $100 per unit payment under the proposed RIPE100 program by collecting research that demonstrates the combined environmental value of climate-smart practices.

This month, we are highlighting cover crops (NRCS code 340). Cover crops reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide additional environmental benefits valued at over $120 per acre per year.

We found that farmers who adopt cover crops provide over $70 in water quality benefits, over $20 in improved soil quality, $13 in water savings, and $7 in air quality benefits. They also reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 0.25 metric tons per acre, which is about $5. Review our methodology and sources for this practice here.

See the full list of RIPE’s qualifying practices here.

Chart showing cover crop benefits in addition to carbon value

RIPE100 Practices Could Provide $440B in Environmental Benefits

Farmers and ranchers can create robust environmental benefits beyond carbon reductions alone. Our estimates show that by year 10, RIPE100 participants would generate $440 billion worth of environmental benefits if 80% of acres and animal units are enrolled. On average, RIPE participants would create a public value of $534 per acre with practices like cover crops, no-till, nutrient management, prescribed grazing and manure management. This far exceeds the average carbon farming payment of $12 per acre. We believe that producers should be compensated fairly for these environmental contributions.

Chart displaying producer costs for climate versus the private market size

RIPE in the News

RIPE Executive Director Aliza Wasserman-Drewes had the opportunity to speak with multiple ag outlets to spread the word about the RIPE policy proposal last month. Check out articles from Farm Progress and Agri-Pulse about our application to USDA for Climate-Smart Commodities funding and Minnesota Farm Guide’s overview of our policy proposal. WNAX also shared the news Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association recently joined our steering committee. Get these stories and other RIPE coverage on our media page.

Spread The Word!

To advance the RIPE100 policy to pay producers fairly for stewardship practices, we need to engage farmers and ranchers across the country. Here are a few simple ways you can help spread the word!

You can also encourage others to attend one of our monthly webinars to learn more about the RIPE policy. The next webinar is on Thursday, June 17. Click below to join us or to share the registration!

Invitation for RIPE100 policy proposal webinar - Feb. 23

Attend Farm Bill Hearing

Can you make it to Jonesboro, Arkansas, on June 17 for the Senate Ag Committee’s farm bill hearing? If so, contact RIPE VP of Outreach & Government Relations Martin Barbre at MBarbre@RipeRoadmap.org.

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