Experts Panel: 2021 Great Plains conference
What is it like working on climate change with such an intense culture clash surrounding the topic? Hear from experts in their field about what lessons they've learned and how it affects their work going forward. With Martha Shulski (UNL, Nebraska State Climatologist), Crystal Powers (Nebraska Water Center), Tonya Haigh (National Drought Mitigation Center), and Mace Hack (The Nature Conservancy). Moderated by Tom Lynch, UNL.
icon search Searchable Transcript
Toggle between list and paragraph view.
[00:00:05.110]All right welcome to our Experts Panel,
[00:00:07.750]which is suddenly feels a little ironic,
[00:00:10.210]but, my name is Tom Lynch a Professor in the English
[00:00:14.150]Department at UNL, where I teach Environmental Humanities
[00:00:17.880]and Play Studies, including courses on the literature
[00:00:20.850]of Climate Change and the Anthropocene.
[00:00:24.040]Though it's a theme in my teaching, I'm no way an expert
[00:00:26.950]on climate change, but I rely on the knowledge
[00:00:30.300]of experts such as those on our panel today.
[00:00:34.580]This is indeed called The Experts Panel so I suppose
[00:00:37.430]that unlike all the other sessions you've been attending,
[00:00:40.080]these folks really know what they're talking about.
[00:00:43.810]But beyond expertise, the panelists here with us will also
[00:00:48.440]be considering this question,
[00:00:50.080]what is it like working on climate change
[00:00:52.350]with such an intense culture clash surrounding the topic?
[00:00:56.410]Many if not most scientists work in fields
[00:00:58.580]that the general public never hears about,
[00:01:00.560]wouldn't understand, wouldn't even presume to understand
[00:01:03.440]or to question.
[00:01:04.970]But climate scientists need to deal with the constant
[00:01:07.580]questioning from the general public,
[00:01:09.590]from portions of the media and indeed from many politicians,
[00:01:13.500]not only about their data and hypotheses,
[00:01:16.270]but about their motives, their politics,
[00:01:18.860]and even their personal morality.
[00:01:21.370]So let me introduce our panel, first let me say
[00:01:25.670]that Martha Shulski is unable to be with us today,
[00:01:28.600]so she would have been our fourth panelist.
[00:01:32.420]First we have Tonya Haigh, she has been working
[00:01:36.170]with the National Drought Mitigation Center.
[00:01:38.707]And she began working with the National Drought Mitigation
[00:01:41.510]Center in February of 2009 as a Research Specialist.
[00:01:45.490]Haigh has worked for Sustainable Agriculture
[00:01:47.770]and Environmental Conservation Organizations
[00:01:50.300]as a Program Director, Community Organizer,
[00:01:53.360]and a Grant Writer over the last 15 years.
[00:01:56.400]since moving to Lincoln with her family in 2008,
[00:01:59.450]Haigh has also been taking courses
[00:02:01.360]in Environmental Planning and Natural Resource Management
[00:02:06.000]Her interests include permaculture, local food systems,
[00:02:09.080]resiliency in spending time gardening, reading,
[00:02:12.040]and in the great outdoors with her husband
[00:02:14.790]and two daughters.
[00:02:17.960]Then we have Crystal Powers,
[00:02:20.933]as the Research and Extension Communication Specialist
[00:02:23.740]through the Nebraska Water Center,
[00:02:25.160]Powers's role is to be an open channel of communication
[00:02:28.270]with Research and Extension Faculty throughout Nebraska's
[00:02:31.650]Higher Education System.
[00:02:33.660]She would like it to be a two-way path,
[00:02:35.810]what can we learn from each other?
[00:02:37.390]And how can we best collaborate for larger impact?
[00:02:41.230]Powers came from working as an Extension Engineer
[00:02:43.920]in the department of Biological Systems Engineering at UNL.
[00:02:48.060]There Powers work with faculty on improving air
[00:02:50.600]and water quality in livestock systems,
[00:02:53.000]primarily through extension programming
[00:02:55.310]and also some teaching and research.
[00:02:58.260]She has an M.S in Biological and Environmental Engineering
[00:03:01.310]from Cornell, and a BS in Biological Systems Engineering
[00:03:06.470]Along with Powers has two young boys Aiden and Liam,
[00:03:09.580]and husband William.
[00:03:10.620]She enjoys a small farm with dairy cows and chickens North
[00:03:13.700]of Lincoln near Ceresco.
[00:03:15.930]Powers grew up a Husker and rural Nuckolls
[00:03:18.250]in Thayer Counties where her uncles still farms.
[00:03:23.290]And Mace Hack.
[00:03:25.332]Mace has been the State Director for the Nature Conservancy
[00:03:28.080]in Nebraska for the past 15 years.
[00:03:30.200]In this position, he leads a statewide staff of 24
[00:03:33.720]and conserving the lands and waters on which wildlife
[00:03:36.320]and people both depend.
[00:03:37.970]Ensuring that Nebraska's Rich Natural Heritage
[00:03:41.070]remains healthy for future generations.
[00:03:43.920]Mace holds an undergraduate degree in Ecology,
[00:03:46.460]Evolutionary Biology and Animal Behavior from Princeton,
[00:03:50.680]and a doctorate in the same fields
[00:03:52.350]from the University of California at San Diego.
[00:03:55.870]Prior to joining the Conservancy, Mace worked
[00:03:58.700]for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission
[00:04:00.870]as Assistant Administrator for the wildlife division.
[00:04:05.140]Mace also serves as an Adjunct Associate Professor
[00:04:07.920]for the School of Natural Resources at UNL.
[00:04:11.640]So I assume we can go in the order that they're listed here,
[00:04:14.840]which would be to begin with Tonya.
[00:04:22.750]Sure, thanks Tom.
[00:04:26.100]Would you like us to kinda start with a general description
[00:04:29.150]of some of the work that we're doing relating
[00:04:31.510]to climate change?
[00:04:37.940]That would be fine with me, yeah, I'm gonna turn
[00:04:40.820]off my screen though, so.
[00:04:42.450]Okay, it's really great to be in this panel discussion
[00:04:47.900]today, I'm looking forward to this discussion quite a bit.
[00:04:51.260]I wanna start by setting expectations and along those lines,
[00:05:00.060]my background is actually in Sociology,
[00:05:02.230]I'm a Social Scientist, so I am not a Climate Scientist.
[00:05:07.234]And so often in the work that I do, I am bringing
[00:05:10.610]either a climate scientist with me or I am bringing
[00:05:15.000]very targeted information that is directly usable
[00:05:20.660]by the stakeholders who I'm working with.
[00:05:22.560]So I have worked with the National Drought Mitigation Center
[00:05:27.490]which is based here at the University of Nebraska Lincoln,
[00:05:31.500]for 10 or 11 years.
[00:05:35.300]I work quite a bit with farmers and ranchers
[00:05:38.100]on how to plan for and how to manage climate extremes,
[00:05:43.890]particularly drought, of course.
[00:05:45.800]So this work is very action oriented,
[00:05:50.528]it's not as much policy change oriented,
[00:05:54.952]and it tends to be very much focused on the impact
[00:05:57.950]of climate extremes and climate change.
[00:06:02.448]So increasing frequencies or increasing severity of drought,
[00:06:08.930]how to plan for that, how to manage that, how to maintain
[00:06:12.860]the sustainability of an operation through
[00:06:16.450]droughts like that?
[00:06:17.580]So naturally our discussions are probably a little different
[00:06:24.490]than some of the other experts even on this panel,
[00:06:28.000]and some of you out in the field, as far as the feedback
[00:06:33.700]that we're getting in the discussions that we're having.
[00:06:38.790]So one of the questions that we were presented,
[00:06:40.680]with was how we've seen the culture around climate change,
[00:06:48.460]change itself, I guess, over our careers?
[00:06:53.701]And one of the things I wanted to touch on, again,
[00:06:55.470]I work a lot with farmers and ranchers sort
[00:06:58.540]of in this direct way of how to manage the impacts,
[00:07:05.710]how to use climate information to really better inform
[00:07:10.740]Some of that work has been done through the, with corn belt
[00:07:15.820]farmers, quite a bit of the work that I've done has been
[00:07:18.630]done with ranchers throughout the Great Plains.
[00:07:21.410]One of the first things I wanna say that we have seen
[00:07:24.370]is that, I think it's important to remember that,
[00:07:29.140]while often farmers are framed as an audience
[00:07:32.610]that's really hostile to the concept of climate change,
[00:07:36.850]that's not actually true across the board.
[00:07:42.080]A longitudinal survey has been taking place
[00:07:44.280]at Iowa State University by J.Arbuckle and his team,
[00:07:48.770]that has been asking farmers over time about
[00:07:52.040]their perceptions of climate change.
[00:07:56.545]And the majority of farmers actually do believe
[00:08:01.980]that climate change is occurring,
[00:08:06.150]where we've seen some differences is what they think
[00:08:09.160]causes climate change.
[00:08:10.330]So is it a natural occurrence or is a purely human derived,
[00:08:15.220]or is it some mixture of natural and human derived?
[00:08:23.074]And so that's where probably the conflict can be.
[00:08:26.760]But I also wanna say that these climate change beliefs
[00:08:29.110]are actually, we've seen them shifting and evolving.
[00:08:32.160]And in the most recent Iowa Rural Poll,
[00:08:35.260]which was done in 2020, Arbuckle's team found
[00:08:40.750]that more farmers say that climate change is happening now,
[00:08:45.610]than we saw 10 years ago.
[00:08:47.590]And we're seeing an increasing percentage of farmers
[00:08:50.880]who believe that humans have at least some roles.
[00:08:55.420]So humans either are the main drivers or humans along
[00:09:00.130]with natural causes are driving climate change.
[00:09:04.009]So culturally, I think we're really seeing a change
[00:09:09.182]in how that farm and ranch audience is perceiving
[00:09:13.253]And I'll be interested to hear how some of the others out
[00:09:14.890]in the field maybe seeing that happen.
[00:09:19.990]And then at the same time, just something I wanna touch
[00:09:21.910]on that we can talk more about is, I think one of the things
[00:09:24.493]that we're really seeing recently is, especially in areas
[00:09:29.030]where livestock production is kind of a life,
[00:09:31.630]is a main livelihood in a way of life,
[00:09:34.720]folks starting to really see that as being under attack
[00:09:38.540]when we talk about climate change.
[00:09:39.960]That climate change mitigation and eating less meat
[00:09:45.220]and livestock production are really being equated.
[00:09:49.603]So I think we're seeing some defensiveness
[00:09:51.630]and some discussions there about how livestock producers
[00:09:57.880]can be productive and seen as a productive part
[00:10:02.071]of the climate change discussion and solutions.
[00:10:06.870]So I'll end there and let other folks talk unless
[00:10:10.590]there are other questions you have for us.
[00:10:15.430]No, we can move on and getting more of discussion
[00:10:17.900]after everybody finished here.
[00:10:19.850]So Crystal, you're up ?
[00:10:22.290]Sure, thanks for the very flattering introduction,
[00:10:26.580]it seems, I don't know that I'd call myself
[00:10:29.970]more of an expert than anyone else here at the conference.
[00:10:33.790]It's been great to hear all these perspectives
[00:10:36.590]about how culture really ties into this challenge.
[00:10:41.320]And as Tonya started, my background as you might've heard
[00:10:45.990]is as an Environmental Engineer with a lot of focus
[00:10:51.240]on AG systems and how they interact with the environment.
[00:10:57.040]And let me see where to start.
[00:11:01.640]So maybe I'll just share a little bit about how I first
[00:11:05.810]got into working with climate.
[00:11:08.250]I've had a long interest even as an undergraduate
[00:11:11.840]I've always been very, I did a Communications Studies Minor,
[00:11:16.510]so I've been very interested in how to communicate
[00:11:20.017]I love my engineers, I have a lot of family
[00:11:22.600]for engineers too.
[00:11:23.680]And I'm like, how can I help them better speak to the rest
[00:11:28.060]of the world, has been kind of my focus throughout
[00:11:31.560]the time, both as a student and now as a professional.
[00:11:37.300]And so when I was in the Biological Systems Engineering
[00:11:41.700]Department, we received a...
[00:11:44.230]It turned into a six year project.
[00:11:47.070]But I was the Project Coordinator on where we were working
[00:11:51.210]with animal agriculture and a changing climate.
[00:11:54.600]And so it was really helping particularly
[00:11:58.620]extension educators nationally, but a little bit broader
[00:12:02.630]than that in the end.
[00:12:04.210]But particularly helping our professionals gear up
[00:12:08.860]to be able to talk about climate change,
[00:12:14.040]how we might be contributing in animal agriculture,
[00:12:17.240]which as Tonya said, is much harder discussion.
[00:12:21.520]And the place of entry for most people is to talk
[00:12:24.530]about, what does that mean for animal agriculture?
[00:12:28.640]And how can we make ourselves more resilient?
[00:12:32.270]Was really the language we started in on,
[00:12:34.230]but what made that?
[00:12:35.280]So we started that project in 2011/2012,
[00:12:42.130]somewhere in that range.
[00:12:43.810]And as the speaker said yesterday or last night,
[00:12:48.300]for those of you who were on, in 2010/2011
[00:12:51.250]was kind of an inflection point nationally for being able
[00:12:57.020]to have easier conversations maybe,
[00:12:59.440]kind of, is this a slow process?
[00:13:02.410]When we first got the grant though here in the Midwest,
[00:13:05.600]it was still very difficult to even talk
[00:13:09.660]about climate change.
[00:13:10.950]It was, and particularly in animal agriculture it was viewed
[00:13:14.710]and is still viewed a little bit hostily.
[00:13:17.380]But what was really interesting over the course
[00:13:20.890]of those six years, you know, it was a national project.
[00:13:25.410]And so there were lots of other parts of the US
[00:13:27.950]who were gung-ho to talk about it.
[00:13:30.400]So we hosted a lot of events in other parts of the US,
[00:13:35.100]but I think in Nebraska, the drought of 2012,
[00:13:40.100]combined with the climate impacts on Nebraska report
[00:13:46.520]that came out I think, somebody might have to...
[00:13:49.370]I'm sure we've talked about these things, I'm trying
[00:13:52.340]to remember dates.
[00:13:53.173]But anyway, those two things really helped kind of move
[00:13:56.360]the conversation even here in Nebraska
[00:14:00.010]to where it was at least okay to start talking about it.
[00:14:06.240]All that being said, I don't think I've ever had somebody
[00:14:08.880]yell at me personally about climate change.
[00:14:12.140]I have never met the really hostile people
[00:14:15.190]that will be hostile, I know they're out there,
[00:14:17.505]but in all of our experience, it's not, I think sometimes
[00:14:21.540]we worried more about that than we ever actually saw it.
[00:14:27.820]And so that was what we found when we started talking
[00:14:30.120]to our extension educators who were kind
[00:14:32.800]of our professionals who work with farmers
[00:14:36.679]and AG advisors.
[00:14:39.520]Was that they were just very nervous about, you know,
[00:14:42.800]'cause you'd see these things on the news and it seemed
[00:14:45.840]that the confrontational nature of it was probably
[00:14:50.170]the biggest barrier, they're like,
[00:14:51.697]"We understand the science because most of these are Masters
[00:14:56.080]or PhD level scientific folk."
[00:14:59.330]So like they didn't have to, I mean, they had to study
[00:15:02.380]it for a little bit, but they weren't too concerned
[00:15:04.220]about understanding the science.
[00:15:06.570]They said very clearly "We don't know how to talk about it."
[00:15:10.430]And so that was where our project, we kind of refocused
[00:15:14.640]a little bit, you know, cause all the people
[00:15:16.680]who were on the lead team were engineers
[00:15:20.650]and scientific folks.
[00:15:22.130]And so like, okay, we really need to have the communication
[00:15:26.120]science and social science involved.
[00:15:29.270]And that was about the time that Tonya came on board,
[00:15:31.290]so we actually did a few things together to really bring
[00:15:35.360]that perspective into our project.
[00:15:37.810]And we had a whole science communication workshops
[00:15:41.780]in a couple of different places across the country
[00:15:44.620]and that really helped people feel more comfortable,
[00:15:47.210]you know, like kind of, that was one of our metrics
[00:15:49.570]that we ask people, "Do you feel more prepared?"
[00:15:54.360]which is kind of the technical side of it.
[00:15:56.780]We asked a few questions about if they feel technically
[00:15:59.550]prepared to talk about it.
[00:16:00.580]And then we also ask them, "Do you feel more comfortable?"
[00:16:04.790]You know, we had a set of questions around that.
[00:16:07.770]And by helping get some of those science communication tools
[00:16:13.230]in people's hands, they really felt like they were more
[00:16:16.960]prepared to talk about it.
[00:16:18.740]And one in particular that I can talk about more details
[00:16:21.640]if people are interested,
[00:16:25.346]we used a method called Scenario Planning,
[00:16:28.881]which has been used since I think world War II or something,
[00:16:33.640]was its origins, but not too much before we were using
[00:16:37.090]the National Park System, was using Scenario Planning
[00:16:40.910]to talk about and help foster conversation
[00:16:44.530]about the future of National Parks.
[00:16:47.290]And so we decided to use that method as a way to start
[00:16:52.340]this conversation for, we were working in our area
[00:16:56.470]with beef producers and then we did the same
[00:16:59.410]in the Northeast part of the US with dairy producers
[00:17:03.840]to let them drive the conversation.
[00:17:06.400]And it really lets them kind of become curious
[00:17:11.560]and kind of approach it from curiosity instead
[00:17:15.350]of some experts are coming in and telling me,
[00:17:18.310]this is what it's going to be.
[00:17:20.120]We had the experts in the room to kind of,
[00:17:23.800]but we didn't do most of the talking it was a format
[00:17:26.680]that allowed the farmers to kind of take ownership and say,
[00:17:29.807]"Here's some potential futures."
[00:17:31.960]And some of which could be just like the weather is today,
[00:17:36.870]but climate science is kind of saying, that the future might
[00:17:39.610]look like this.
[00:17:41.690]So we let them explore those different multiple futures,
[00:17:46.000]and then they felt more open to strategize
[00:17:51.596]how to tackle that.
[00:17:52.587]And so this was obviously very focused on responding
[00:17:56.220]to climate change.
[00:17:57.810]I think there's definite other steps that could be talking
[00:18:02.300]about, how do we kind of take responsibility
[00:18:05.240]for our portion to reduce our contribution?
[00:18:09.460]But it was a really good foot in the door,
[00:18:11.510]it went over very well, we ended up here in Nebraska,
[00:18:15.890]the two communities that we did our events in.
[00:18:22.830]With that Longitudinal Study that Tonya was talking about,
[00:18:26.210]those two counties were some of the least favorable counties
[00:18:30.760]to talk about climate change.
[00:18:32.070]And we didn't really plan it that way, but it worked out
[00:18:33.960]that way because they have a lot of beef producers
[00:18:36.680]and as Tonya said, beef feels like they're getting
[00:18:40.400]a bad rap.
[00:18:41.233]So they don't really like to talk about climate.
[00:18:45.610]But then we got through trusted relationships
[00:18:48.560]with the local County Extension Educators,
[00:18:52.800]we got people in the door.
[00:18:54.010]so that part was really critical, is you have trusted
[00:18:56.370]messengers, which we heard other people
[00:18:59.780]talk about at this event.
[00:19:02.320]So those people got them in the door, and at the end
[00:19:05.280]we had just really great quotes from some of the people
[00:19:08.150]who came of like, "I didn't expect anything
[00:19:11.530]out of this, and it was one of the better events
[00:19:14.050]I've been to."
[00:19:15.709]And so I feel like we had really good feedback
[00:19:20.250]from those who attended.
[00:19:22.670]So I'll kind of stop on that project, we can talk
[00:19:28.720]more about it if people are interested.
[00:19:31.440]And then kind of now in my current role,
[00:19:33.470]I get to see a little bit more of the policy side
[00:19:37.130]at the local level.
[00:19:38.220]I work really closely with our Natural Resource Districts
[00:19:41.440]with some of our state agencies.
[00:19:45.864]And the hard part when you you get into policy
[00:19:48.530]is that it involves politics.
[00:19:51.050]And that's always been the real hazard,
[00:19:53.270]like when we were talking with our extension educators
[00:19:56.050]about talking about climate change,
[00:19:58.470]we specifically gave them strategies to deflect from talking
[00:20:03.510]about the politics of climate.
[00:20:06.020]But yet as many know is that we do have to engage
[00:20:09.880]our politics in policy to move us forward as well.
[00:20:15.430]And so that's a whole nother layer of complexity
[00:20:19.520]which I'm getting to see now that I work in a slightly
[00:20:23.100]different role of working with the people who actually deal
[00:20:26.130]with local politics, and how to move political will
[00:20:33.270]is a different question than getting people to think,
[00:20:36.240]you know, personally at my operation, what might
[00:20:39.040]I do different?
[00:20:40.340]And so I don't know if I consider myself an expert
[00:20:43.710]in that realm so I won't say more about it now,
[00:20:48.480]but I would definitely just say it's...
[00:20:50.330]There's a different set of tools when you're talking
[00:20:53.240]about moving politics and policy, than when you're talking
[00:20:57.210]about personal education.
[00:20:59.340]So I'll stop there I've said a lot,
[00:21:02.310]I'll look forward to questions after a bit.
[00:21:04.330]Thanks, thanks, that was interesting.
[00:21:05.770]I should remind the audience that we have a question
[00:21:08.050]and answer tab, that you click on that you can type
[00:21:12.040]a question and then we'll try to answer
[00:21:14.510]as many of those as possible at the end of the session.
[00:21:18.390]So next up is Mace, turn it over to you Mace.
[00:21:21.900]Yeah, thanks for the invitation to join you all today.
[00:21:25.130]I am the State Director for the Nature Conservancy.
[00:21:28.760]The Nature Conservancy is one of the largest
[00:21:30.670]conservation nonprofits in the world.
[00:21:33.300]We're in 78 countries.
[00:21:35.600]We're in all 50 States.
[00:21:36.660]We've been around about 70 years.
[00:21:39.080]And we recognize everywhere we work that our top two
[00:21:44.000]challenges are the biodiversity crisis, the rapid loss
[00:21:49.450]that's happening of plant and animal species,
[00:21:52.220]and with it challenges to human livelihoods.
[00:21:55.360]And the climate crisis, which is intricately related
[00:22:01.430]with the biodiversity loss.
[00:22:02.820]And so everywhere we work around the world
[00:22:04.660]those are the top organizing challenges for our work.
[00:22:08.220]So it's front and center in how we operate.
[00:22:11.910]That being said, we're a very local organization.
[00:22:14.070]I run our team here in Nebraska, and we're very much
[00:22:17.680]responsive to the needs and the challenges locally.
[00:22:22.930]And one of our core values is working
[00:22:24.960]with communities not against them.
[00:22:27.400]And so we've been operating in Nebraska for over 40 years,
[00:22:32.380]and we're about building long-term relationships
[00:22:35.133]with the communities that we feel can really help
[00:22:38.800]create a better future for nature and for people.
[00:22:41.200]It's not just about nature, it's about the human livelihoods
[00:22:44.290]that depend on a healthy environment.
[00:22:46.650]So climate change infuses everything we do,
[00:22:49.230]which is actually quite my background and training
[00:22:51.950]as a scientist, as an ecologist.
[00:22:53.970]And when I started 35 years ago in my training,
[00:22:57.610]and then subsequently, I mean, climate change was not even
[00:23:00.710]talked about in science, in academic circles.
[00:23:05.440]And it wasn't really until I was a post doc that I started
[00:23:07.990]learning about climate change.
[00:23:10.590]And I would say now, I've been at the Nature Conservancy
[00:23:14.720]for 15 years.
[00:23:16.430]Prior to that as my bio said,
[00:23:18.110]I was with the Game and Parks Commission State Agency
[00:23:20.590]here in Nebraska.
[00:23:22.060]And it was not on our radar screen at all at that time.
[00:23:24.920]But in the last 15 years, we've really culturally
[00:23:28.760]as an organization, we really had to embrace what it means.
[00:23:32.870]And our traditional work, some of you may know
[00:23:35.560]our traditional work as sort of identifying biodiverse
[00:23:39.810]rich places, lands particularly that we want
[00:23:44.510]to conserve for future generations.
[00:23:47.740]That's a long-term prospect, and climate change turns
[00:23:50.590]that on its head.
[00:23:51.890]Basically the whole world is changing quite rapidly
[00:23:55.060]through climate change in places that we started to protect
[00:23:57.840]50 years ago or started conserved 50 years ago,
[00:24:00.260]may no longer be that refuge for biological diversity
[00:24:04.942]10, 20, 30, 50 years in the future.
[00:24:06.850]So we've had to have taken a much more dynamic perspective
[00:24:10.890]on how do we conserve biological diversity?
[00:24:14.330]How do we conserve the human livelihoods that has helped
[00:24:18.330]preserve that biodiversity like the ranching in our state?
[00:24:23.262]And we have also over our history much more concerned
[00:24:27.760]now with the full picture not just lance,
[00:24:30.380]but freshwater and ocean.
[00:24:31.790]So we're working in all these different realms.
[00:24:34.390]And I would say one thing that differentiates
[00:24:37.200]our conservation work in Nebraska from other places,
[00:24:40.220]is Nebraska has very little public lands.
[00:24:42.880]So there's less than 3% of land is set aside for nature.
[00:24:48.740]Every other acre is in the hands of private land owners.
[00:24:51.680]Most of that being in the hands of farmers and ranchers.
[00:24:54.200]And so if we wanna affect the future
[00:24:55.980]of the natural environment in Nebraska,
[00:24:59.040]we have to work collaboratively with farmers and ranchers.
[00:25:03.370]And it forces us to, it's been an interesting evolution
[00:25:07.940]over the past few years to figure out how to bring
[00:25:10.260]climate change into that, into our strategies of working
[00:25:13.490]with the private landowner base.
[00:25:15.700]And I'm happy to talk more about that.
[00:25:17.650]But it's been, needless to say it's been a sea change
[00:25:21.600]in how we approach our work and understanding
[00:25:26.350]that how dynamic the natural world is and is gonna become
[00:25:31.420]more with climate change.
[00:25:40.480]Okay, thank you Mace.
[00:25:42.150]So do you guys have any questions,
[00:25:44.710]discussions you wanna engage in with each other?
[00:25:46.759]Anything you would like to ask each other before we move
[00:25:50.310]on to broader conversation with the audience?
[00:25:57.450]I just wanna second the point that Mace just made
[00:26:00.460]about the challenges of working on these issues
[00:26:05.340]in private lands.
[00:26:07.560]And since we're talking about culture
[00:26:09.650]I think that's a really important piece of it,
[00:26:13.980]that private land ownership certainly brings
[00:26:16.870]some of its own cultural things along with it.
[00:26:20.700]And there've been some interesting studies
[00:26:22.640]that they're not all private land ownership doesn't bring
[00:26:27.310]just, you know, completely an only a me orientation.
[00:26:31.870]Private landowners tend to want to be good neighbors,
[00:26:35.820]tend to want to be good stewards.
[00:26:38.330]You know, there are a lot of other aspects
[00:26:39.830]about that but I think it definitely does affect
[00:26:43.100]how we do work in this area.
[00:26:47.290]How might sort of corporate ownership of AG lands
[00:26:51.220]affect this as opposed to, you're still sort of modeling
[00:26:54.630]the idea that it's like a family farm
[00:26:56.460]rather than a corporate farm.
[00:26:57.760]Have you seen a different dynamic involved with that?
[00:27:04.090]Go ahead Mace, yeah.
[00:27:04.923]Nope, well I was gonna say, Tonya you go
[00:27:06.410]if you have, I can speak a little bit to that but...
[00:27:10.050]Yeah, I can't, so I would say you start and I might
[00:27:13.870]have something to add later.
[00:27:15.630]Great, thank you.
[00:27:17.750]Corporate ownership, I won't necessarily address directly,
[00:27:20.820]but what we do know for example, in Nebraska when you look
[00:27:24.700]at our crop lands and I think it's probably happening
[00:27:27.200]to a certain degree with our ranch lands too, but our crop
[00:27:29.740]lands are more than half owned by absentee land owners.
[00:27:32.850]So the person farming that property doesn't actually
[00:27:35.600]own that property.
[00:27:37.250]And when you're talking about one of our big avenues of work
[00:27:40.430]the last few years has really been looking to farmers
[00:27:43.410]as not causes of climate change, but as solution providers
[00:27:48.720]for things like sequestering carbon and soils.
[00:27:51.560]So we have a toolbox and other tools of practices
[00:27:56.260]that we'd love to put on the land at a large scale
[00:27:58.790]that can really help with both reducing greenhouse gases
[00:28:03.850]but also help the farmers adapt and be more resilient.
[00:28:08.180]It's really hard to negotiate that divide between
[00:28:11.420]the operator on that land and the owner who may be,
[00:28:16.200]hasn't been on that land in a generation or two.
[00:28:18.350]Maybe they live in California or Alaska or wherever,
[00:28:22.100]and there's a lessee, lessor relationship that's negotiated.
[00:28:26.280]It really makes things harder than when you're dealing
[00:28:28.700]directly with the person that owns that land.
[00:28:30.540]It makes it harder for them to make
[00:28:31.900]changes in their operation.
[00:28:33.100]That might be beneficial, but there's a nurture
[00:28:37.260]there because they have another relationship
[00:28:38.910]they have to manage.
[00:28:41.230]And it's not just Nebraska, it's throughout the corn belt.
[00:28:43.520]A large percentage of land is not owned
[00:28:45.740]by the operator of the farms.
[00:28:48.760]Yep, and maybe to build a little on what Mace is saying.
[00:28:53.490]What we found too is and I think Tonya was alluding
[00:28:57.370]to this as well is that, the people farming the land
[00:29:01.830]and working with the animals, you know who better
[00:29:04.430]than to see and directly experience the changes
[00:29:08.180]that are happening in the climate.
[00:29:11.060]I think generally in the surveys as well
[00:29:13.300]it chose that they're actually above the US average
[00:29:18.732]on agreeing that something is happening in the climate.
[00:29:21.850]Like Tonya said, "There's differences on whose fault it is."
[00:29:27.380]But I mean the operators are seeing it and they're having
[00:29:33.110]to deal with the consequences of it on a daily basis.
[00:29:37.500]And so that's why when we framed our discussions
[00:29:40.320]around that piece about, how can we help
[00:29:42.920]you be more resilient?
[00:29:44.720]And yeah, and I really like the saying,
[00:29:49.197]"How can they also be part of the solution?"
[00:29:51.470]That brings to conversation, it brings it along in a really
[00:29:56.320]productive, helpful way.
[00:29:57.920]And like I said, I have always had very positive experiences
[00:30:01.370]with that sort of framing, but yeah, finding ways to connect
[00:30:07.950]it to those who aren't on the ground,
[00:30:09.860]seeing what's happening, I think that might
[00:30:12.710]be a little bit more of the hurdle.
[00:30:17.040]And I'll just add to, I think what both of you were saying
[00:30:19.640]especially the ownership and the management in crop lands
[00:30:27.197]in the corn belts.
[00:30:29.320]One of the things we learned a lot about was just
[00:30:33.770]how many of the decisions made about cropping systems
[00:30:38.610]in corn and beans are really being informed by different
[00:30:42.600]types of advisors, whether it's your seed sales
[00:30:45.920]or input sales person or your paid crop advisor.
[00:30:50.788]And those are folks who farmers whether they're actively
[00:30:54.310]involved in the farm or whether they're less actively
[00:30:57.990]involved but maybe contracting different things out.
[00:31:01.810]Those are folks that they tend to have really
[00:31:03.660]built relationships with and built a lot of trust with.
[00:31:06.810]And so what we were finding is some real routes of success
[00:31:13.879]in working directly with advisors,
[00:31:17.830]different types of advisors.
[00:31:19.980]Extension of course, but also some of those other types
[00:31:23.280]of advisors that might be your crop scout
[00:31:28.070]or your seed and input dealers.
[00:31:33.770]They have a lot of influence and they tend
[00:31:35.600]to also have a lot of interest in data.
[00:31:39.880]So they can be a great audience to have some discussions
[00:31:43.010]with and can also be a really good way
[00:31:45.980]to bridge the gap sometimes.
[00:31:50.100]One of the things I'm getting from this discussion
[00:31:52.330]is that though we talk about the farmer having a stewardship
[00:31:55.830]role on the land, in fact there are sort of systems
[00:32:00.580]and contemporary agriculture that make
[00:32:03.360]that more and more difficult.
[00:32:06.720]And I'm wondering if in your work you've seen ways
[00:32:10.140]in which systemic changes could take place
[00:32:14.210]that would make farmers more able to function
[00:32:18.660]as stewards of the land in the ways that in the context
[00:32:22.450]of climate change we think would be beneficial?
[00:32:28.750]That's a great question.
[00:32:30.410]Yeah, do you want to jump in Tonya?
[00:32:34.460]Absolutely, I mean, I think systems cause impediments
[00:32:37.340]but I also think you can create change at a rapid
[00:32:42.750]and large-scale pace by changing the system,
[00:32:45.220]so there's opportunity there.
[00:32:46.930]And we see it in terms of, we've done a lot of work recently
[00:32:54.450]with corporate America and the supply chain that are looking
[00:32:57.710]for various reasons, for their own sustainability.
[00:33:01.190]They're looking 30 years down and wondering whether
[00:33:02.820]they're still gonna be able to rely on Nebraska
[00:33:04.590]as a major corn producer, for example, beef producer?
[00:33:08.290]But also in terms of their client base, the people
[00:33:11.100]who are buying McDonald's Hamburgers or beef at Walmart,
[00:33:15.670]you know, wanna more sustainable products.
[00:33:17.860]That can send a very strong systemic signal through
[00:33:21.060]the supply chain that farmers, you know,
[00:33:24.340]whether they care about acting on behalf of mitigating
[00:33:29.020]or reducing climate change or not, their profitability,
[00:33:32.190]their bottom line and often their sustainability
[00:33:34.500]can be enhanced by that.
[00:33:35.650]So are there practices, cover crops, irrigation scheduling,
[00:33:40.670]ways to make them more efficient, more resilient,
[00:33:44.242]to the high variability we can expect to see.
[00:33:47.160]And weather patterns, and get a product to market
[00:33:54.693]that the supply chain wants.
[00:33:56.550]And so we have several projects throughout the State
[00:34:01.800]where we're actually putting this on the ground with farmers
[00:34:04.090]in the Central Plain Region for example,
[00:34:06.056]we have about a 100,000 acres that we're ready
[00:34:07.780]to enroll in a program.
[00:34:10.180]And we're hoping that farmers engaging this and helping
[00:34:14.060]them experiment a little bit by cost sharing
[00:34:17.090]some of the changes in their practices will create
[00:34:19.580]a community that then, farmers can learn from farmers
[00:34:23.130]and the practices can be more widely adopted.
[00:34:25.470]But they're being driven not necessarily
[00:34:27.280]by the Nature Conservancy saying, "Hey, would you come
[00:34:29.340]to a meeting and listen to what we have to share with you?"
[00:34:32.330]They're being driven by the ultimate purchasers
[00:34:35.550]of their products saying, "This is important
[00:34:37.100]to us and we need to change here, and would you be willing
[00:34:39.420]to work with the Nature Conservancy and other partners
[00:34:42.503]And that's very powerful.
[00:34:43.336]So we're using the system in that regard
[00:34:44.860]to make much widespread change.
[00:34:52.600]Tonya, Crystal, do you have anything to add to that?
[00:34:57.580]Well, I hesitate to be an expert on it but I will bring up
[00:35:02.570]the Federal Farm Policy Drives, I'm not an expert
[00:35:06.170]in this field but it does drive a lot of what gets planted
[00:35:11.470]on the ground in certain places.
[00:35:13.840]You know, cause it provides risk protection
[00:35:17.460]through subsidized crop insurance.
[00:35:20.210]We have ethanol mandates which guarantee a large portion
[00:35:25.570]of our corn crop to have a market.
[00:35:31.460]And I said, I'm well outside of my, you know,
[00:35:33.590]being an expert panel and it has the take to go too far
[00:35:36.210]that way cause it's not my field of expertise.
[00:35:39.270]But these are major drivers in the system.
[00:35:44.315]I think that others could say a lot more about,
[00:35:48.660]how those impacts fallout and and how you'd go
[00:35:51.870]about changing them.
[00:35:52.900]But they're definitely a key part of what's happening
[00:35:57.210]on the ground.
[00:36:03.310]Tonya anything to add?
[00:36:07.128]No, I think they both covered that really well.
[00:36:13.320]All right, well, we have a few questions
[00:36:16.100]accumulating here, so let me start on a couple of them.
[00:36:21.527]"Can you give us an example of working with a conservative
[00:36:24.560]community on climate change?"
[00:36:26.560]I think some of you kind of alluded that you could get
[00:36:29.190]into that in more detail later, so we have a question
[00:36:32.610]that gives you that opportunity.
[00:36:39.351](indistinct) Either way I'll just say a little bit
[00:36:41.670]more about our scenario planning workshops,
[00:36:45.240]which are really just kind of the first step to thinking
[00:36:48.080]about how to talk about it.
[00:36:49.930]Because those, like I said in the polling the two counties
[00:36:53.510]where we did that here in Nebraska were very
[00:36:57.500]conservative counties and also very hesitant
[00:37:01.870]to talk about climate.
[00:37:04.140]But basically we have people in the door through trusted
[00:37:08.580]relationships, and we also made it very focused
[00:37:13.470]on how to make them more resilient.
[00:37:16.600]So we definitely didn't wanna come in like pointing fingers,
[00:37:20.000]it wasn't at all about that.
[00:37:21.660]And so you have to communicate those things up front
[00:37:23.570]just even get people to come in the door to say, I'll spend
[00:37:26.810]a few hours of my very valuable time talking
[00:37:31.750]about this topic.
[00:37:32.583]So I think that part is very crucial
[00:37:34.530]as you have to have some trusted local partners
[00:37:40.608]that are in there, and who that is depends
[00:37:46.200]on who you're trying to reach.
[00:37:47.880]So we were trying to work with, about half the people
[00:37:50.260]in the room were livestock producers themselves,
[00:37:53.380]and then the other half of the room we wanted
[00:37:55.400]allied industries is what we're calling it.
[00:37:57.520]But those are the advisors that Tonya was mentioning.
[00:38:00.910]It can be veterinarians, people from the banking
[00:38:06.817]and AG lending world.
[00:38:08.990]So we wanted to have a really good mix of everybody
[00:38:11.210]that has influence at the farm level.
[00:38:15.670]And so, but like I said, that took
[00:38:17.720]some local trusted partners.
[00:38:19.460]And then how we would kick off those conversations
[00:38:22.010]is talking about their own experiences.
[00:38:26.080]We started with weather, you know, what our extreme weather,
[00:38:29.830]we kind of kept it as an extreme weather.
[00:38:32.170]So we talked about the weather which most Nebraskans
[00:38:35.860]love to do.
[00:38:37.120]And so that was like a really casual way, but we put it out
[00:38:41.640]on a timeline and then we talked about, you know,
[00:38:46.490]we started with what are the weather events?
[00:38:48.100]And then how did that impact your industry?
[00:38:51.080]And then, like I said, and that got people talking,
[00:38:53.550]and then we just talked a little bit about,
[00:38:56.980]we introduced just a little bit of, here's what some
[00:39:00.370]of the science says.
[00:39:01.980]But then really quickly threw it back in their court to say,
[00:39:05.330]from your experience, what are the most critical drivers?
[00:39:08.770]And we kind of stuck with weather at this stage,
[00:39:13.180]where the most critical weather drivers
[00:39:15.060]and let them pick it.
[00:39:16.810]And then they'd combine those different weather drivers.
[00:39:18.757]And the ones that ended up winning out not surprisingly
[00:39:21.310]were rainfall and temperature.
[00:39:23.820]And so that gave you four different scenarios, combinations,
[00:39:28.614]and so then we started saying, what does this look like
[00:39:31.020]for you on your operation?
[00:39:33.730]And then we kind of flipped it to start talking climate,
[00:39:36.900]to say, well, if the weather were to be more like
[00:39:41.080]that scenario, then what would you do to make yourself
[00:39:46.140]But anyway, that whole process, it was very much driven
[00:39:48.670]from their side.
[00:39:49.503]I think tapping, I've heard other people talk about,
[00:39:51.840]like the idea of tapping into people's curiosity
[00:39:55.120]that helps people engage really well with the science.
[00:39:58.410]And it really values the experience.
[00:40:01.410]I mean, cause those producers were in the room
[00:40:04.590]because they've been successful over decades.
[00:40:08.190]And so there's a phenomenal amount of experience
[00:40:10.920]with dealing with weather extremes
[00:40:13.030]because that's just a part of the high plains region.
[00:40:18.810]And so combining those things seem to be a really
[00:40:21.570]good way to start the conversation, at least with, you know,
[00:40:26.210]with that particular audience, it went really well.
[00:40:29.160]So I'll stop there and others can share
[00:40:31.280]some of their experiences.
[00:40:34.150]Yeah, I would echo a couple of the points
[00:40:36.400]that Crystal really made, I think.
[00:40:40.430]And again, what I'm usually talking with farmers
[00:40:45.250]and ranchers about is drought.
[00:40:46.640]So we're talking about impacts, and those impacts
[00:40:51.070]and the occurrence of drought may be very much tied
[00:40:54.490]to climate change, but the experience itself is something
[00:40:59.610]that they're familiar with and that there's no argument
[00:41:02.390]about whether it exists or not.
[00:41:05.348]So we often start with that discussion and I think
[00:41:08.080]that was something we also learned from our project
[00:41:11.230]working with the corn and soybean growers,
[00:41:14.570]is framing discussions very much as Crystal
[00:41:17.430]was talking about as, you know, what happens
[00:41:20.550]when you're experiencing increased weather variability
[00:41:23.460]and extreme events rather than starting with climate change?
[00:41:30.140]Here it is, you know.
[00:41:33.227]I think that's helped a lot of different projects
[00:41:36.090]be a lot more successful.
[00:41:37.950]I also have to say really focusing on, I mean,
[00:41:43.020]I think Crystal and I, our work is very much focused
[00:41:46.160]on how to adapt to and manage the effects of.
[00:41:50.460]And I think that area itself is something that maybe even
[00:41:57.140]the most skeptical audience is actually still
[00:42:00.210]gonna be pretty easily brought on board with.
[00:42:03.720]I think it gets a lot more contentious when the focus
[00:42:06.560]of our discussion is going to be related
[00:42:10.240]to mitigation or policy.
[00:42:13.670]And I think in those cases, I think really really thinking
[00:42:17.080]about, what's within the control of the folks
[00:42:21.170]that we're working with?
[00:42:22.110]And what do we really wanna focus on?
[00:42:23.950]Sometimes those things are things like soil health
[00:42:26.830]and range land grazing practices.
[00:42:30.100]That, again, as Crystal was saying are well
[00:42:32.060]within the experience of producers, they're things
[00:42:35.620]that the producers are the experts on, have a lot to bring
[00:42:38.410]to the table and are really productive parts
[00:42:41.320]of the discussion rather than feeling like they're, again,
[00:42:44.980]being put on the defensive and are part of the problem.
[00:42:46.970]So I think that's come up a lot today and I think
[00:42:50.690]that's a really helpful point.
[00:42:52.730]And then I also, let's see, I already said,
[00:42:58.980]as Crystal said, really starting from where farmers
[00:43:00.940]and ranchers are at in their operations,
[00:43:04.630]where their expertise is,
[00:43:05.690]what they're proud of and confident in?
[00:43:07.730]One of the things I think sometimes when we are working
[00:43:11.430]with the community, because we have climate concerns
[00:43:16.830]on the brain, we assume that's everybody else's top concern.
[00:43:21.370]And we maybe don't always fully appreciate the full range
[00:43:28.100]of types of risks and concerns that producers
[00:43:30.990]on the ground are trying to deal with at the same time.
[00:43:34.130]We did a survey a few years ago where we asked farmers,
[00:43:39.150]what are the concerns that are driving your decisions
[00:43:41.180]about the types of tillage that you're doing, and the types
[00:43:44.910]of crop rotations you're using?
[00:43:46.810]And we had this long list and drought and climate
[00:43:50.500]were actually not in the top half of concerns
[00:43:54.490]that we're helping them make their decisions.
[00:43:56.100]And I'm not saying, of course we don't wish drought
[00:43:58.100]and climate were further up that list, but I think
[00:44:00.060]we have to respect the breadth of things
[00:44:03.630]that are on the list that producers really
[00:44:05.730]are dealing with at the same time.
[00:44:11.285]I think that's a really good point Tonya,
[00:44:12.850]thank you for making at it.
[00:44:17.840]But I would also maybe channel Martha Shulski
[00:44:20.920]'cause she can't be here today, that's variability
[00:44:23.200]in weather conditions that we're gonna experience
[00:44:25.480]going forward, exceed the variability of that farmer
[00:44:28.550]or ranchers family legacy on the land.
[00:44:31.040]So they're gonna be throwing things at all even though
[00:44:33.650]they're incredibly adaptable business people
[00:44:36.670]and professionals, that are gonna be throwing things
[00:44:38.690]that they can't necessarily imagine right now.
[00:44:40.380]So at some point you got to get that climate in there.
[00:44:42.870]But just the equity and, you know, I think there are very
[00:44:48.640]immediate concerns for farmers and ranchers.
[00:44:51.240]One of the things we've realized and one of the things
[00:44:53.110]we're focusing on the ranch community is,
[00:44:55.630]ranchers don't necessarily have long-term management plans
[00:44:58.840]for their lands.
[00:44:59.740]And it is a sort of year to year or a two year timeframe.
[00:45:03.160]And there's a lot of aspects it's not just
[00:45:05.060]grazing management and maybe family succession
[00:45:07.210]or financial planning, that they don't necessarily
[00:45:10.010]have that longer term perspective.
[00:45:11.810]And yet both in terms of making them resilient
[00:45:16.070]to this these changes that are coming
[00:45:18.180]that they maybe can't foresee, but also keeping ranchers
[00:45:22.220]on the landscaping.
[00:45:23.180]And one of the best things we can do in Nebraska
[00:45:25.100]for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, is to make sure
[00:45:28.020]no more of our plants get plowed up,
[00:45:29.630]because when that happens so much carbon gets released.
[00:45:31.930]I mean, it overwhelmed anything else we can do.
[00:45:34.350]So keeping ranchers on the land, you know, helping ranchers
[00:45:38.420]get a longer term perspective and putting some tools
[00:45:40.600]in their hands that they're not just reacting
[00:45:42.450]to those really immediate concerns, they're also thinking
[00:45:44.740]about that longer range horizon, is something
[00:45:49.210]we're betting on I hope, I don't know what your experience
[00:45:51.840]or Crystal's experience suggests
[00:45:53.373]that that would be successful or not.
[00:45:55.025]But we're thinking just that simple tool could really help
[00:45:58.640]in the behavior, increase the resilience also keeps
[00:46:01.540]them more sustainable and keeps family ranching
[00:46:03.770]out there on the landscape.
[00:46:05.603]I think that's a great point.
[00:46:06.436]We do, I mean, our work focused with ranchers
[00:46:08.960]is on drought planning and the ranchers who helped us really
[00:46:14.700]build our understanding of what it means
[00:46:16.760]to have a drought plan, really take that perspective
[00:46:19.930]that mismanagement of one or two year drought
[00:46:23.510]or a three-year drought impacts them for decades
[00:46:28.190]'cause their system is degraded and doesn't recover quickly.
[00:46:31.730]It open spaces for invasive species and a lot of big changes
[00:46:36.670]that can happen quickly.
[00:46:38.804]So yeah, thinking about planning and what we do
[00:46:44.120]in the near term and how that affects the long-term
[00:46:46.100]I think is definitely been a big piece of it.
[00:46:47.910]And I do appreciate the comment that, that you're right.
[00:46:52.600]We can't completely keep the discussion
[00:46:54.750]within the realm of what any of us are already familiar
[00:46:58.950]with and expect in terms of weather variability.
[00:47:03.210]And that's like, yeah, the next step of the discussion
[00:47:06.400]that we try to have for sure.
[00:47:10.720]Well, this sort of leads into one of the questions
[00:47:13.260]here which I'll shorten a little bit but basically
[00:47:17.010]the gist of it is, "Farmers take a lot of risk
[00:47:19.160]and often can't afford to do the climate smart practice
[00:47:22.260]that hasn't been proven.
[00:47:23.590]So how do you sort of work with farmers and ranchers
[00:47:28.410]in that regard?"
[00:47:33.480]I'll start, it's a great question.
[00:47:35.560]We try to de-risk it by cost share.
[00:47:38.170]So what we've found, for example with things
[00:47:40.520]like more efficient irrigation use, there's technology
[00:47:44.360]out there off the shelf, a lot of farmers already
[00:47:46.750]have it on their pivots or have it readily accessible.
[00:47:50.020]It's a cost of capital investment, they don't necessarily
[00:47:52.720]know how to use it to greatest advantage
[00:47:54.410]for their operation.
[00:47:55.350]It often takes a couple, maybe two or three years
[00:47:57.810]to get comfortable with it.
[00:47:59.270]And so if we can de-risk that learning process
[00:48:01.760]and basically help them through it and they can start
[00:48:04.430]seeing the value of themselves.
[00:48:06.820]We feel that then in a lot, within our experience
[00:48:11.260]that they then will do it on their own.
[00:48:13.090]So I think there is a role for government programs
[00:48:16.120]for nonprofit and other co-investments to help
[00:48:19.800]with that learning and help them through that risky phase
[00:48:24.940]of capital investment.
[00:48:26.500]The reason that it continues is because there are benefits
[00:48:30.260]financially to their operation.
[00:48:32.660]They may not be able to realize those immediately
[00:48:35.060]but as they implement some of these practices they realize,
[00:48:37.510]maybe their input costs are going down, they're using
[00:48:39.280]less fertilizer or they're being more efficient.
[00:48:41.200]Maybe they're saving 15, 20% of water use.
[00:48:45.300]Sometimes it's a big time savings, just being able
[00:48:47.350]to efficiently run a pivot and scheduling it.
[00:48:50.820]For example, can save a farmer,
[00:48:52.857]they don't have to run around to lots of different fields,
[00:48:54.970]they can actually control everything from their cell phone
[00:48:56.870]in their bedroom when they wake up in the morning and see
[00:48:59.160]that it's rained on field six, seven, and 10 or something.
[00:49:02.210]So we don't expect that to continue unless a farmer
[00:49:06.200]realizes that economic gain from it, but they need
[00:49:09.430]sometimes that two three year transition period
[00:49:12.120]and some cost share to help them get there.
[00:49:18.920]Yep, and I would agree very much that our conversations
[00:49:23.130]because we had, be farmer driven.
[00:49:27.120]Economics was the key part of that question.
[00:49:30.200]And probably the lion's share of what I said,
[00:49:34.560]ours were kind of what I'd call an initial step.
[00:49:39.530]I haven't had the opportunity to be involved
[00:49:41.940]in some of the the later parts of it.
[00:49:45.210]But when you're initially talking about it,
[00:49:46.930]economic success to be key in there.
[00:49:49.010]I mean, we basically put that as one of the system drivers,
[00:49:54.890]it goes around the outside, you know, is the market
[00:49:58.973]and economic drivers.
[00:50:01.300]So, you know, it is very fundamental to what's going on.
[00:50:06.484]And that being said, a lot of what we're talking about
[00:50:08.930]is how to minimize risk.
[00:50:11.280]And so, you know, and that gets to be what's challenging is?
[00:50:14.500]Because when you're talking about low-risk events
[00:50:19.850]but that have high impact when they happen,
[00:50:23.130]such as a drought or a flood, or, you know,
[00:50:29.340]I think what helped us when we'd just
[00:50:30.780]come off of a very cold, well, so for Nebraska,
[00:50:36.100]not very cold, but we had lots of mud
[00:50:38.300]and for cattle producers, mud is, you know,
[00:50:41.233]I think we had a quote from one of our participants
[00:50:45.260]who said that mud has killed more profits than anything
[00:50:49.750]else in the beef system or something along those lines.
[00:50:53.860]And so we were talking about how do we minimize risk?
[00:50:58.992]Quite a lot, you know, that's foundational, I mean,
[00:51:02.260]that's why these guys were in the room, is because
[00:51:03.860]they've been able to manage financial risk
[00:51:06.310]along with all the others.
[00:51:08.510]And basically what we're trying to bring to the conversation
[00:51:11.310]is that climate is changing that risk
[00:51:15.740]from what they've experienced in the past.
[00:51:18.560]And so ours is more at a planning level,
[00:51:22.049]I know there's lots of other facets that probably need
[00:51:25.330]to go into a conversation so I'll see
[00:51:28.770]if the others wanna add to it.
[00:51:30.570]But for ours that was kind of what we're focused on,
[00:51:33.918]is helping them have a plan for if your level of risk
[00:51:38.300]is changing, how can we start thinking about it today
[00:51:42.480]in a way that'll make us more resilient in the future?
[00:51:48.410]I think those are great comments.
[00:51:49.750]I agree, I think one of the biggest challenges
[00:51:52.170]is that some of the biggest risks may be things
[00:51:59.270]that we rarely if ever have experienced.
[00:52:02.820]So it's hard to see ourselves interested in investing
[00:52:06.460]in things before something happens.
[00:52:09.520]And then when it happens, it's easy to think, Oh gosh,
[00:52:12.140]I wish I would have invested in that.
[00:52:14.366]So I think that's definitely going to be the challenge
[00:52:17.010]with climate change.
[00:52:21.860]So yeah, I would say we use, I mean,
[00:52:23.380]we use some of the same approaches, and again,
[00:52:26.410]because drought at least in the great plains
[00:52:30.640]is kind of a constant, the practices that ranchers
[00:52:37.500]might recommend for preparing for drought
[00:52:40.440]are both familiar to them and they've probably experienced
[00:52:44.520]a severe drought to see what kind of impact,
[00:52:48.400]whether that strategy helped them or not.
[00:52:51.527]So they have the experience that really kind of changes
[00:52:56.340]I think Mace mentioned the cost share which I think
[00:53:01.770]is really important.
[00:53:03.640]I think demonstration plots or even demonstration
[00:53:07.410]larger than plots, bigger projects, maybe on-farm projects
[00:53:12.080]that can be run by Universities or Nature Conservancy
[00:53:16.840]type organizations where they're taking on the risks
[00:53:19.680]but can demonstrate how benefits might play out,
[00:53:25.100]can be really helpful.
[00:53:27.570]But I agree, I think that's a huge challenge.
[00:53:30.447]I remember hearing a similar comment a few years ago.
[00:53:35.000]I can't remember if it was maybe a specific tillage system
[00:53:38.040]we were talking about and the farmer said,
[00:53:40.897]"That sounds really interesting but five years ago
[00:53:44.020]the experts were telling me to invest in something
[00:53:47.900]So now, five years from now are you gonna tell me to totally
[00:53:50.350]switch gears again?'
[00:53:51.860]So I think putting the financial risk elsewhere to help
[00:53:58.500]demonstrate benefits might help as well.
[00:54:02.380]All this discussion of risk makes me think of insurance.
[00:54:05.280]And I'm wondering how the crop insurance system may
[00:54:08.930]or may not inhibit people from doing climate positive styles
[00:54:17.270]of farming or ranching or ways it could be altered
[00:54:21.432]to sort of begin to account for some of these risks
[00:54:24.270]and sort of allow farmers to take some gambles in the name
[00:54:28.360]of trying to mitigate climate change on their land,
[00:54:32.570]and have it insured in some way, any thoughts on that?
[00:54:41.490]I can't answer the insurance question, but I do think
[00:54:44.790]the point that the government policies are a big lever
[00:54:49.350]is an important one.
[00:54:50.430]And I would like to point out that, I mean,
[00:54:52.850]one of the potentials is that sequestering carbon
[00:54:57.100]in the soil, organic matter in the soil which is good
[00:54:59.860]for a farm in terms of water retention and fertility
[00:55:03.270]could also be a good solution for taking greenhouse
[00:55:06.050]gases out of the air, and potentially provide a market
[00:55:09.530]that further compensates a farmer for those actions
[00:55:12.340]and de-risks it.
[00:55:13.173]So that's, we're it's early days and we're actually
[00:55:18.730]working with one of the accrediting agencies
[00:55:21.390]to try to figure out is that feasible and is it economical?
[00:55:24.790]And it kind of be a driver here, but I think will be a miss
[00:55:28.550]not to mention the carbon markets putting a price
[00:55:31.050]on carbon could help drive some of that change in a way
[00:55:33.650]that doesn't put that farmer or potentially that rancher
[00:55:37.070]at risk, actually profits them for the good behavior
[00:55:41.420]that they would, farmer's case do anyway,
[00:55:43.460]to build soil productivity.
[00:55:50.425]And I'm gonna say a lot...
[00:55:51.710]Oh, go ahead Tony, you gonna---
[00:55:52.543]I'm just gonna say, I think that's a great example
[00:55:54.300]of foreign policy really affecting the discussion
[00:55:59.430]and potentially, you know, culturally how we think
[00:56:04.373]I think I've seen a lot of Twitter chatter,
[00:56:09.730]if that's what it is about carbon markets more in the last
[00:56:15.770]couple of months than I did for years.
[00:56:20.080]And so I do think it has a big impact.
[00:56:22.720]And obviously I think that the crop insurance discussion
[00:56:26.170]we could have for another hour.
[00:56:27.870]So I won't try to touch that but I think the short answer
[00:56:31.840]is yes, I think it definitely, those things definitely
[00:56:34.080]affect decision making.
[00:56:36.170]Yeah, yeah, I'm not the right person to talk
[00:56:39.990]too much about it.
[00:56:40.830]So I would definitely encourage the person
[00:56:42.730]who asked the question to look into what little
[00:56:45.670]I've seen of it.
[00:56:46.503]There's are pros and cons
[00:56:48.460]as as there are with most policies, cause not all crops
[00:56:53.310]are in that program.
[00:56:54.730]And so you need to stay within the program guidelines
[00:56:59.320]which I know we've had some conversations about getting
[00:57:04.900]So it's not just corn and beans.
[00:57:09.421]There's policy pieces there, even in cover crops
[00:57:12.760]there's been some hang-ups.
[00:57:15.120]And there's also just the type of equipment
[00:57:20.180]that the farmer has, you can't just switch
[00:57:23.780]on the turn of a dime.
[00:57:25.640]And so there's some inherent inertia in the system
[00:57:29.720]and so I'll leave it with that since we're at the top
[00:57:32.970]But it needs, it's all a whole another conversation
[00:57:37.430]as Tonya said.
[00:57:38.263]And I think it's important.
[00:57:39.790]Yeah, it's all systems, right?
[00:57:43.230]Well, we have reached our time limit here,
[00:57:45.670]so I wanna thank our panelists for joining us today, (claps)
[00:57:51.100]and our attendees as well for being here.
[00:57:53.450]It looks like we have a good turnout.
[00:57:54.830]It's a little funny not actually seeing people,
[00:57:56.620]I'm used to having a whole gallery of people visible.
[00:57:59.090]It's probably distracting so I understand why we don't.
[00:58:03.538]But Baligh, do you have any comments or announcements
[00:58:06.720]to make before we leave?
[00:58:08.659]Yeah, I think all the participants and the attendees
[00:58:13.210]in this session, and again, I've just dropped the---
Log in to post comments