The USDA Northeast Climate Hub, in conjunction with the University of Maryland, hosted a regional workshop to address the USDA 'Building Block' approach to greenhouse gas mitigation.
The workshop took place over the course of two days in March of 2016 at the National Agricultural Library in Beltsville, Maryland with the following purpose: To understand the challenges to implementing the Greenhouse Gas Building Blocks for Climate Smart Agriculture and Forestry within the Northeast and discuss opportunities to overcome those challenges and expand the effectiveness of USDA in reducing greenhouse gas loads in the Northeast.
There were 74 attendees from the federal, state, academic, and private sectors
The program was organized into three broad tracks for discussion. The first track addressed the application of an approach to Greenhouse Gas (GHG) mitigation termed, Building Blocks for Climate Smart Agriculture and Forestry in the Northeast. Simultaneous sessions examining Soil Health and Nitrogen Stewardship, Grazing and Pasture Lands, and Energy Generation and Efficiency and Livestock Partnership. The remaining five building blocks, which are largely forestry related, were not addressed here because they were addressed in workshops organized by the Northern Forests Climate Hub. The second track focused on selected farming systems in the Northeast, with sessions on Beef and Dairy, Field Crops, and Agroforestry and Organics. The third and final track focused on distinctive challenges and opportunities at the regional scale in the Northeast. These sessions examined Economic and Social Factors Impacting Agricultural GHG Mitigation, Local and Regional Food Systems, and Urban and Niche Agriculture. Each of the nine sessions was organized by a lead who coordinated panelist presentations that were designed to elaborate on background information compiled by each lead. Summaries of panel presentations and the main points addressed during discussions are included in the following report, USDA Northeast Climate Hub Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Workshop Technical Report.
A short workshop background
In April 2015, then USDA Secretary Vilsack announced the Greenhouse Gas Building Blocks for Climate Smart Agriculture and Forestry in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase carbon sequestration, and expand renewable energy production in the agricultural and forestry sectors. This initiative was composed of the following ten building blocks: Soil Health, Nitrogen Stewardship, Livestock Partnerships, Conservation of Sensitive Lands, Grazing and Pasture Lands, Private Forest Growth and Retention, Stewardship of Federal Forests, Promotion of Wood Products, Urban Forests, and Energy Generation and Efficiency. The Building Blocks were voluntary and incentive-based and aimed to promote conservation practices while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing carbon sequestration by 120 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year by 2025 on a national basis. The regional USDA Climate Hubs were charged with organizing workshops to discuss the implementation of the Building Blocks in their regions.