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Encouraging Farmer Adoption of Regenerative Agriculture Practices in the United States

RESEARCH Report by Kelly Wilson , Stephanie Mercier , and Rob Myers
A woman and man crouch down in a field of cover crops and examine the plants.
Edwin Remsberg & USDA-SARE

Regenerative agriculture can help our food and agricultural systems become more resilient.

Farmers and ranchers are facing escalating challenges from climate change as they confront the consistent need to maintain high levels of productivity. Modern farming practices have enabled farmers to increase per acre production substantially over the last several decades, but these practices can also contribute to the depletion of the quantity and quality of natural resources (such as soil and water). There is a potential solution: regenerative agriculture.

Regenerative agriculture is an emerging approach to farming that aims to increase farm resiliency by improving soil health, restoring natural resources, and increasing biodiversity through integrated farming practices. It can play a key role in helping farmers develop more resilient production systems and mitigate the challenges they face, all while contributing to the goals of companies supporting these practices, including goals of achieving carbon neutrality and sustainable supply chains. Regenerative agriculture does, however, face barriers that impede its adoption, namely financial concerns, access to necessary materials, equipment, and infrastructure, knowledge and education, time, and land tenure. Through public and private programs aimed at supporting farmers' adoption of regenerative agricultural practices, it is possible to reduce barriers to implementation and build farmer capacities, ultimately championing a regenerative future for agriculture.

About the Authors
Kelly Wilson
Associate Director, University of Missouri Center for Regenerative Agriculture
Headshot of Kelly Wilson.
Dr. Kelly Wilson is the Associate Director of the Center for Regenerative Agriculture at the University of Missouri and an Assistant Professor with the School of Natural Resources. Wilson works with farmers and populations across agricultural value chains to generate innovative solutions to complex global challenges in food security.
Headshot of Kelly Wilson.
Senior Policy Adviser, Farm Journal Foundation
Stephanie Mercier is pictured from the shoulders-up wearing a blue sweater over a black button-down.
Dr. Stephanie Mercier is a Principal at Agricultural Perspectives, an independent agricultural policy consulting firm. She is also currently serving as a Senior Policy Adviser at the Farm Journal Foundation.
Stephanie Mercier is pictured from the shoulders-up wearing a blue sweater over a black button-down.
Rob Myers
Director, University of Missouri Center for Regenerative Agriculture
Headshot of Rob Myers.
Dr. Rob Myers is the Director of the University of Missouri Center for Regenerative Agriculture, and also serves as Regional Director of Extension Programs for the North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program. He is a crop and soil scientist with expertise in cover crops and diversified cropping systems, and co-manages a family corn and soybean farm in central Illinois.
Headshot of Rob Myers.
About the Editor
Peggy Tsai Yih
Former Managing Director, Center on Global Food and Agriculture
Headshot of Peggy Tsai Yih
Peggy Tsai Yih led the Council’s continued work on global food and nutrition security and in advancing a more sustainable and resilient food system. She has 20 years of experience in food, agriculture, and natural resource policy, with nearly 15 years at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in Washington, DC.
Headshot of Peggy Tsai Yih