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Show your support for catalyzing agroforestry in the farm bill

2023 POLICY PAPER
Catalyzing Agroforestry in the Farm Bill: 
Recommendations for Resilient Agriculture


The integration of trees and shrubs into farms and ranches, a suite of practices known as agroforestry, holds immense potential to transform US agriculture and forestry.

Agroforestry systems provide an array of conservation, economic, and social benefits. These complex agroecosystems can sequester carbon, enhance resilience to severe weather, improve environmental health, provide habitat for wildlife, and boost overall soil health. Agroforestry operations can simultaneously produce high-value tree crops such as fruit, nuts, timber, and livestock feed, diversifying farm economies and increasing resilience for producer operations. Agroforestry can achieve conservation benefits in conjunction with the cultivation of high-value products such as grass-fed livestock, fruit, nuts, and other forest products. This unique combination of improving ecosystems, economies, and availability of sustainably produced food sets agroforestry apart as a distinct opportunity available to policymakers who want to increase options for farmers and ranchers in their districts. Fostered by Indigenous land managers from pre-colonization to the present and engineered for scale by farmers and scientists, modern agroforestry practices have the potential to restore biodiversity on the landscape.

Because of its myriad benefits, agroforestry rises to the top as a priority solution for climate adaptation, climate mitigation, conservation, economic resilience, and environmental justice. At the federal level, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is devoting for the first time substantial funding to new climate-focused projects that will accelerate the scaling of agroforestry. Public and private initiatives recognize the promise of agroforestry for climate mitigation and adaptation. Opportunities and momentum for agroforestry are multiplying at unprecedented rates. Yet, several key barriers remain for producers interested in adopting these practices. To remove these barriers and ensure agroforestry can deliver on its potential to mitigate climate change, build resilience, and support community health, targeted adjustments to federal policy are needed.

The farm bill presents a once-in-five-year opportunity to codify those changes into law. The following is our blueprint for how to embed strategic, coordinated support for agroforestry across federal farm bill programs, from improving cost-share opportunities to expanding regional demonstration projects, long-term research, and technical assistance. 

Together, we can build the policy foundation needed for all producers to adopt productive agroforestry practices at any scale. We urge Congress to include these provisions in the upcoming farm bill to bring this agricultural transformation to fruition.

Authors
ALPHABETICAL

Karen Daiter, PhD
CLIMATE REALITY PROJECT, CHICAGO CHAPTER

Cathy Day, PhD
NATIONAL SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE COALITION, CATHY DAY CONSULTING

Renee Gasch
SAVANNA INSTITUTE

Maya Glicksman
CARBON180

Patty Iverson
CLIMATE REALITY PROJECT, CHICAGO CHAPTER

Peter Lehner, JD
EARTHJUSTICE

Kate Wersan, PhD
SAVANNA INSTITUTE

Contributors and Reviewers
ALPHABETICAL

Samantha Bosco, PhD
INDEPENDENT RESEARCHER

Scott Brainard, PhD
SAVANNA INSTITUTE

Bill Davison
SAVANNA INSTITUTE

Robbie Coville
PENNSYLVANIA DEPARTMENT OF CONSERVATION AND NATURAL RESOURCES

Keefe Keeley, PhD
SAVANNA INSTITUTE

Nate Lawrence, PhD
SAVANNA INSTITUTE

Beverly Paul
DAVENPORT POLICY

Noah Simon
BREADTREE FARMS

Russell Wallack
BREADTREE FARMS

Tracy Yu
CARBON180

Cristel Zoebisch
CARBON180

READ THE RECOMMENDATIONS

2023 POLICY PAPER
Catalyzing Agroforestry in the Farm Bill: 
Recommendations for Resilient Agriculture

 

  • Understand the benefits of planting trees and other perennial shrubs on farms and ranches.
  • Review some unique barriers standing in the way of farmers planting trees as a climate and conservation solution.
  • Read recommendations from the Agroforestry Coalition that could be included in the next farm bill to catalyze agroforestry as a resilient form of agriculture in the US.
  • Hear farmer stories and find videos from Arkansas, California, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, and Wisconsin.

Published by the Agroforestry Coalition Policy Working Group, 2023.

The Agroforestry Coalition

We foster collaboration across sectors to increase the number of farms and ranches producing food via the intentional integration of trees and shrubs into cropping and livestock systems.

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