By Sherry Bunting, Farmshine, July 22, 2022
The pain is necessary. The transition is unavoidable. The climate pledges are urgent. Race to zero. Net Zero Economy. Sustainable Nitrogen Management. Climate Champions, and on and on.
These are just some of the pages and phrases at the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) website where resolutions are adopted, targets are pledged, sustainable development goals (SDGs) are constructed and updated, and Environment, Social, Governance (ESG) scoring is discussed for countries, cities, corporations, lenders, investors, institutions, states, provinces, networks, alliances, even individuals.
Dairy farmers are being asked to provide more and more of their business operations data, field agronomy, feed and energy purchases, inputs, output, upstream, downstream — a virtual farm blueprint.
While it is important that farmers have a baseline to know where they are and gauge where they are going, it is also critical that such details do not provide a centralizing entity the ability to map them into zones where requirements are passed down by milk buyers, government agencies, industry programs, or lenders deciding farmers in Zone A will be held to one standard while farmers in Zone B are held to another.
Meanwhile, even the most aggressive standard is so trivial in the big picture that it is offset virtually overnight by unrestrained pollution in countries like China where no one is minding the store.
Sound familiar? Look at The Netherlands.
Activist NGOs have struck deals with everyone from the billionaire globalists, activist politicians, industry organizations, corporations and investors to create the world they envision and have invested in for a future return.
They use marketing platforms, global PR firms, thought-leadership networks, pre-competitive alliances, pseudo-foundations and even align with government agencies to flesh out the details and drive the bus.
As producers and consumers, it feels like we are along for the ride.
For example, Changing Markets Foundation, an offshoot of World Wildlife Fund, partners with NGOs to “leverage market forces to drive rapid and self-reinforcing change towards a more sustainable economy.”
It was formed to accelerate this transition.
Just this week Changing Markets published a study taking aim at dairy – warning investors to take a more active role in improving the dairy and meat sector’s “climate impact” by asking these companies, the processors, to disclose their emissions and investments and cut methane and other pollutants.
In other words, the NGOs, through a ‘marketing’ foundation, prods investors to push your milk buyers, lenders and vendors to obtain and track for them your information.
These NGOs and foundations are driving this bus a little too fast, and it needs to slow down. They take countries (like Holland) to court to hold up infrastructure projects, using their own pledged targets against them and forcing a faster timetable to gain the offsets needed for the stalled projects.
They publish self-fulfilling studies, surveys and warnings prodding investors to reach back into the dairy and meat sector and take a more active role in getting more reporting of downstream methane emissions (your farm).
They warn dairy and meat processors that if they don’t get this information and cough it up, investor confidence will be harmed and their assets could be stranded, resulting in large economic losses.
They salivate with anticipation, waiting for land purchase packages that they, as NGOs, can poorly manage as contractors alongside the purchasing government entities.
Let this sink in. The investor class is being deemed the farmer’s new customer – not the consumers whom our farmers are proud to feed and proud to show the truly valuable practices they use in caring for the land, practices that are often not very well monetized – like cover crops, for example.
If a country like the Netherlands with a progressive agriculture industry finds itself in the position that it can’t build or do infrastructure projects without first decreasing nitrogen emissions on the backs of farmers, where do we go from here with the fuzzy math being done on all greenhouse gases in the sidebars of highly-capitalized alternative meat and dairy lookalikes that are lining up — ready to burst on the scene to grab a foothold for investor returns?
The Changing Markets report, in fact, makes the claim that 37% of global GHG comes from food production and attributes most of this to meat and dairy — certainly embellishing the issue in this disingenuous phrasing and fuzzy math.
If farmers can’t be paid for the simplest of constructive practices that produce food for people — while at the same time being restorative to the land, why should billionaires and governments be able to come in and buy their land, plant trees, re-wild to scrub brush or half-hearted grassland status and get an offset?
None of what is happening makes sense unless we step back and recall what we know about the World Economic Forum’s Great Reset, Food Transformation, Net Zero Economy and the realities of so-called ESGs. This has been a process and most of us have only had glimpses of it to connect the dots.
I recall conversations over the years of my journalism career with a most respected ag economics professor, the late Lou Moore at Penn State. He worked with farmers and his peers in former Soviet countries after the breakup of the Soviet Union. He would tell the stories from Ukraine, described to him as handed down through generations of the period of terror and famine known as the Holodomor when the Soviets collectivized the farms of the Ukraine under communism – resulting in the starvation and death of 10 million or more in a transition.
Bottomline: Agenda 2030 has been under construction for some time now, and ‘climate urgency’ is being used today to target farming and food production, not just energy and fuel.
Our industry organizations keep telling us the public, consumers, are driving where this is going, that it is science based, and yet key questions at the farm level still can’t be answered.
At the regional levels, we see authentic models of conservation groups partnering with dairy farms and cooperatives to access grants for meaningful improvements that make financial and environmental sense but may not show up just so on a global NGO’s master sheet.
There are ideas being generated to give companies of all sizes a way to be ‘climate champions’ by investing in Farm Bill conservation programs that really work. Congressman G.T. Thompson mentioned this recently at a farm meeting.
Let’s do the work that accomplishes what’s real and equitable for our farmers and hold off just yet providing too much detailed information.
We know NGOs and governments have set targets to protect 30% of the earth’s surface as non-working lands by 2030 and 50% by 2050. This boils down in the targets at the U.S. level as well.
Let’s be sure we don’t give away the farm.
The strength and diversity of our farmers is so important. You, our farmers worldwide, are the thin green line between us and a Holodomor.