Meet Finian Makepeace, the co-founder, policy director and lead educator of the advocacy group, Kiss the Ground. Finian is one of the leaders of the regenerative agriculture movement and is helping to spearhead its Regenerate America campaign, which aims to get Congress to support regenerative farming in the next Farm Bill. Finian gave us the scoop on why he thinks regenerative agriculture is inspiring so many people and how each of us can get involved.
Q: So wait, is that your real name? It’s so awesome!
A: Yes, my real name is Finian Makepeace. My parents legally changed it to their last name before I was born. So it has been my name my entire life.
Q: How did you get interested in regenerative agriculture?
A: There were two a-ha moments for me with regenerative ag. The first was around the carbon sink, the ability to draw massive amounts of carbon out of the atmosphere through plants into the soil.
The second a-ha for me was this concept of regeneration. For me, I had been living life as an environmentalist, and like many of us, I was asking: How are we going to do less harm? How are we going to conserve, sustain what little we have left?
We look around the world and see that 75% of land is degraded and 25% is heavily degraded. And then you think: What if we can build it back so it functions again? So it’s sequestering all the carbon it can, so it’s holding all the water it can, so it’s creating biodiversity. So this concept of regeneration is really at the heart of the regenerative movement. That’s why it’s so inspiring and that’s why it’s moving so many people to say: Wait, we have another option.
Q: Tell me about the mission of Kiss the Ground.
A: Kiss the Ground’s mission is awakening people to the possibilities of regeneration. We started about nine years ago and we have four programs: media, policy, stewardship and farmland. At the core of it is championing and making this idea more available to the world. In 2020, we launched Kiss the Ground, the movie, and ever since have seen an explosion of awakening people to the possibility of regeneration. That includes our own Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, who has credited Kiss the Ground as a reason he’s prioritizing soil health right now at the USDA.
Q: How does Regenerate America fit in to this?
A: Regenerate America is an unprecedented campaign to ensure robust support for regenerative agriculture in the next Farm Bill. For those who aren’t familiar, the Farm Bill impacts more American lives every day than almost every other bill because it dictates what we eat and how what we eat was farmed or ranched.
Q: What are you asking for specifically?
A: Specifically, we are asking Congress to ensure that the Farm Bill has major support for rebuilding soil in this country. Right now, inside an $856 billion package, only about 1% of that directly helps farmers and ranchers rebuild their soil. We’re saying: what if that needs to be 10% or 15%? Because at the end of the day, whether it’s the climate crisis, drought crisis, flood crisis or farmer prosperity crisis, all these things are connected to soil degradation.
Q: Sounds great! What can we all do to help?
A: Regenerate America is founded on a principle that soil is our common ground, which is another way of saying, we don’t have other solutions to the crisis we face that have this unique bipartisan support, and an ability to create more of that support. So we're seeing in Congress that there's incredible support on both sides for this issue. And what we're saying is: If this coalition gets big enough, if enough of you come out and support, or move forward and bring your organization or your businesses to the fight, we can make a real difference. This is an opportunity for all of us to participate. And you don't have to know every detail of the Farm Bill to get involved.
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