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Agriculture & Climate Sustainability: Advancing a Private Land Ethic - Harkin Institute

  • Date: October 22, 2022
    Time: 1:00pm - 5:00pm
    Location: Harkin Institute, Drake University
    2429 University Ave
    Des Moines, IA 50311

The theme for the first annual Johnson Center forum is “Agriculture & Climate Sustainability.” The conference will explore how agricultural policy must be integrated with climate sustainability, including opportunities through the Inflation Reduction Act. Below is the framing for this forum followed by an outline of the events for the day:

  • Paul Johnson believed that agricultural policy must financially support farmers to do the right thing. 
  • Today, this means replenish the planet as much as feed the world. 
  • There are answers to a viable agricultural economy with a clean, verdant planet – but they are not through current policies that seek to maximize production of agricultural products.  
  • People who are and can be agricultural stewards for the future are not now farming or supported by policy to farm the land the way they want. 
  • The President and Congress have provided seed funding to demonstrate a better way and support people to do so. 
  • How can this funding be used well? How can it move toward a transformed environment for agriculture? How can it inform policies for the future? 

The forum will be both in-person and virtual and is by registration.

Plenary Session – 1:00pm - 2:30pm

Tom Harkin will welcome and introduce the forum and the Johnson Center will provide an overview of its work and set the stage for the forum. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has been invited to give the keynote (and/or a top-level USDA representative), with Ricardo Salazar and Kiefe Keeley confirmed as providing responses and serving as panelists. The plenary will set the stage for breakout sessions to explore in more detail elements that must go into agricultural policy to support sustainability 

Breakout Discussions - 2:45pm - 4:00pm 

Breakout sessions will be led by different thought and practice leaders in the field, many from organizations co-sponsoring the event. Each session will lead with a framing presentation and include time for questions and discussion. Among other things, one goal of the sessions is to help further thinking and explore the elements that could go into Paul’s dream for a “Private Land Stewardship Act” consistent with the theme of the forum. 

The tentative break-out sessions and leaders are provided below, but these will be adapted and contoured by those leading the sessions. The leaders are responsible for organizing the sessions, enlisting others where appropriate, and providing at least an introduction. While the format may vary, there should be time set aside for questions and discussions from those who attend. 

Breakout Sessions 

  • Small is Beautiful. How agriculture can contribute to producing renewable energy as an integrated part of the agricultural landscape. – David Osterberg and Andy Johnson  
  • Cultivating Cultivators. What incentives and supports are needed to grow the next, diverse generation of conservation farmers. – Leaders from Practical Farmers of Iowa and Drake and ISU student leaders.  
  • Thought and Action. How we can build upon the past work and thinking (Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson, Paul Johnson) for the next generation of thought leadership and action. – Curt Meine 
  • Indigenous Ethos. How policy can value and recognize tribal lands and leadership in advancing a private land ethic.  – Pat Leavenworth 
  • Farm to Market. How city agriculture and urban-rural collaborations can contribute to meet agricultural needs. – Suzan Erem 
  • What Would Paul Say? How we can work together to find policy solutions from the power within us. Charlie Bruner and Ralph Rosenberg

Register for this free event here.