WASHINGTON, Oct. 27, 2015 - The Obama Administration used its “Champions of Change” program Monday to honor a dozen farmers, ranchers and other agricultural experts for practicing or promoting “sustainable and climate-smart agriculture” and to unveil “new efforts” to promote “climate-smart” farm practices. The announcement is one facet of a White House public relations campaign in the lead-up to the United Nations conference on climate change in Paris at the end of next month.

In addition to recognizing the innovators, the White House also touted USDA’s announcement of some $173 million in loans and grants for 1,114 small-scale renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. Among them are nearly $6 million awarded for 17 anaerobic digesters in eight states. The projects are claimed to generate enough energy for 83,000 homes and reduce emissions equivalent to pollution of more than 131,500 cars.

USDA also published detailed assessments of climate change vulnerability in eight regions, describing climate adaptation strategies [and] “a greenhouse gas emissions profile with mitigation opportunities.”

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To promote the practice, the White House said that winter cover crops have been planted every year on the first lady’s Kitchen Garden and will soon be planted for this year. “Cultivating cover crops leads to healthy soil and healthy crops through protecting the soil, improving soil quality, reducing erosion and runoff, and building up soil carbon,” the White House said in a statement.

It also praised the National Farmers Union for promoting efforts to address the threat of climate change – such as “climate-smart grazing and pasture practices” and for advocating an agreement in Paris “that takes a strong step forward toward a low-carbon, sustainable future.”

“Agricultural producers and their communities across the country are already experiencing the impacts of climate change,” the White House “fact sheet” asserts. “Increasingly severe floods, drought, wildfire and other factors pose an immediate threat to the lives and livelihoods of our nation’s farmers, ranchers and land managers. President Obama is committed to working across all sectors to take strong action on climate and ensure food security both domestically and abroad. As we look to Paris, today’s actions demonstrate America’s continued leadership in land management strategies that mitigate emissions and adapt to climate change.”


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