A Turning Point for Regenerative Agriculture
The move on regenerative agriculture being presented at a hearing for the House Ag Committee represents an important new horizon.
By Finian Makepeace
When the new House Agriculture Committee meets on February 25th, the new Chairman, Congressman David Scott (GA), will begin his first Hearing, “Climate Change and the US Agriculture and Forestry Sectors” not with debate, but with a movie trailer for Kiss the Ground. The award winning documentary on regenerative agriculture so powerfully impacted the Chairman that, alongside the trailer, he also enlisted North Dakota regenerative rancher Gabe Brown, star of the aforementioned film, to testify before Congress.
Eight years ago I was fortunate to watch a four-hour lecture that changed my life. I learned from Graeme Sait, a farm consultant from Australia, that there was indeed a way to actually reverse humanity’s trajectory toward impending doom. By sequestering vast amounts of carbon, we could mitigate flooding, fire, and drought, restore freshwater supplies, increase biodiversity, impact human health — and finally balance our climate. This big solution was just below our feet.
Working with nature, we can rebuild our soil and recreate a healthy climate faster than we ever thought possible. Back then, I had considered myself pretty well informed about climate change and where we were at with these major crises facing us. So what struck me the most at that moment was that, “if I didn’t know probably most people in the world didn’t know either”.
Turns out, that was mostly true. While many indigenous wisdom holders, innovating farmers, and some scientists really grasped this potential, the majority of folks throughout the world just hadn’t fully understood the power of regeneration (plants working with soil microbes to regenerate land). That very night, in my friend Ryland Engelhart’s living room, we declared that, if this was indeed possible, we would dedicate our lives to getting the potential of this opportunity out to the world.
So every Monday, in that same living room, we met with friends and new acquaintances from many walks of life to deliberate on what we (a group of random but impassioned people from Venice, California) could do to help move this idea of soil health and regenerative agriculture out to the world. A year later, Kiss the Ground (an organization dedicated to education and advocacy) was born. Soon after, we partnered with Josh and Rebecca Tickell to make Kiss the Ground — the Movie.
So, what is Regenerative Agriculture? Simply put, Regenerative Agriculture is agriculture that causes the land to regenerate. And it can be accomplished everywhere, and with any kind of farming. Combining indigenous knowledge, holistic management, and recent scientific discoveries, it allows farmers to work to help plants and soil microbes build carbon into the soil. Or, in essence, to grow soil.
At its core, it involves 6 key principles: context, living roots, least disturbance, animal integration, biodiversity increase, and soil armor. For farmers and ranchers, that includes practices like no-till, multi-species cover cropping, using compost, adaptive “regenerative” grazing, elimination of chemicals, agroforestry, and much more.
Over these last 8 years, we have learned from and worked with a diversity of incredible organizations and leaders from all over the world to help build this movement and make these ideas more available. This past September, Kiss the Ground the Movie was released on Netflix. The film, now with 46 awards and over 5 million views, is being shared worldwide — touching farming communities, environmentalists, and as we see today in Washington, DC, even policymakers.
Regenerative Agriculture being presented at a hearing for the House Ag Committee represents an important new horizon, an opening to an incredible option for our nation and the world. This is truly an idea whose time has come and a solution to climate change that isn’t polarized for Democrats or Republicans because it’s about farmers and land stewards becoming humanity’s heroes.
This isn’t about sustaining anymore either, it’s about regeneration and restoration and that is going to take all of us. We can and must halt the destructive path of degeneration, rebuild our soil, and make this the moment where the tide truly turns in the collaboration to reverse climate change, restore biodiversity loss, replenish clean water sources, address the inequity of land access, regain human health, and revitalize our communities.
We look forward to continuing to work with Chairman Scott and other members of Congress, advocates, and farmers everywhere to bring forth the wide-scale adoption of regenerative agriculture.
(Finian Makepeace is Co-Founder and Policy Director of Kiss the Ground — a California based nonprofit leading the conversation about the importance of soil health & regenerative agriculture. To watch the movie and learn more about how you can get involved in this growing movement,
please visit kisstheground.com)