Combined with the susceptibility to crop failure and rising costs of inputs, our current agricultural system is costing taxpayers more each year, while contributing to economic rural decline and increased farmer debt.
Depleted and chemically-managed soils also lead to nutrient deficient food and pesticides in our food. In the US, 3 pounds of toxic chemicals are sprayed on our food, per person, every year. Much of today's fruits and vegetables contain 90% fewer nutrients than at the start of this century, while 92% of the US population suffer from vitamin deficiencies leading to a multitude of chronic diseases.
Finally, our food crisis is worsened by an overreliance on commodity-based, industrial food systems that have weakened regional food supply over the past several decades, putting our nation and our most vulnerable communities at risk in recent times of global crisis.
Farmers can increase yields/stocking rates: Adoption of regenerative practices enhancing soil biology and fertility lead to increased production/biomass.
Farmers can reduce input costs: Better soil fertility, soil testing, and management decisions lead to reduced input costs and irrigation expenses.
Regenerative agriculture also reduces the economic impacts from extreme weather events, minimizing susceptibility to flooding, drought, fire, and other shocks.
Regenerative agriculture can also help address the existential crisis of climate change–and actually help reverse global warming by millions of tons of CO2 into soil and biomass, reducing nitrous oxide emissions from fertilizer reductions, increasing cooling through more land covered with living plants, and reducing food waste and methane emissions.
When soil is healthy and living it acts like a sponge. With every 1% increase in soil organic matter, our lands can hold an additional 20,000 gallons of water, which means that they are far more resilient to extreme weather events because they can absorb moisture during floods, and retain moisture during droughts and fires. Increased plant cover also provides more respiration, cooling, and cloud seeding of localized rain. Regenerate America has a long-term target of building 3-6% organic matter for all agricultural soils.
Groundwater recharge of springs and aquifers happens when rainwater is absorbed and infiltrates through the soil profile. When the soil properly infiltrates water, our freshwater sources are replenished, bringing water back to springs and rivers.
By restoring our soil through regenerative agriculture, we can ensure more harvests in the future, thereby improving long-term food security. A stable food supply is also less subject to shocks in the global supply chain, thereby guarding against food price fluctuations.
Restoring soil biology also means plants are able to access minerals and nutrients that keep them healthy and strong so they can protect themselves from attacks by pests. This leads to improved food quality, as our food can become more nutrient-dense for everyone and we can reduce chemical inputs.
A regenerative agriculture system also diversifies and strengthens our food system by increasing local and regional food production.
Converting rangelands to regenerative grazing practices will restore bird populations, create habitats for abundant pollinators, and clean the waters they rely on.
Through the widespread adoption of regenerative agriculture, we can bring prosperity to rural communities for this generation and generations to come, while improving food and water security and strengthening our climate resilience. This is the bipartisan issue of our time.
Regenerate America is convened by the national soil health nonprofit organization, Kiss the Ground.