Agriculture & Negative Emissions

Marquee Theater
1 — 2:15 p.m.  |  Breakout Session 2A

The agricultural sector has the potential to make important contributions to our climate. This panel addressed the role of agriculture in both addressing and adapting to climate change.

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Key Takeaways

  • Agriculture is a vital part of the past, present, and future of Wisconsin’s economy, but agriculture must become more environmentally friendly, release fewer emissions, and become more equitable for all. Research, data, evidence, collaboration, and experience are necessary for transforming agriculture into an environmentally friendly sector. 
  • Farmers and agricultural organizations have begun accepting that their practices can impact the climate. They have begun using no-till farming techniques, erosion controls, rotational grazing, and other regenerative, climate-smart farming practices in Wisconsin to mitigate climate change impacts. 
  • Negative emissions refer to removing carbon dioxide and other pollutants directly from the atmosphere. Negative emissions technologies are relatively new and will take a while to make large impacts. 
  • Some farmers and landowners have begun reserving land for forestry, cover crops, and wildlife in an effort to sequester carbon and have begun no-till farming in an effort to trap and keep carbon in the soil.
  • It will take a public-government partnership and ongoing collaboration between sectors to ensure that agriculture can help reduce emissions, and create negative emission scenarios. Funding, pilot programs, and new agricultural practices will be crucial.


Gary Besaw

Credentials: Moderator, Agriculture and Negative Emissions

Position title: Director, Menominee Tribal Department of Agriculture and Food Systems and Food Distribution Department

Gary Besaw (Menominee, Bear Clan) served on the Menominee Tribal Legislature for 15 years, including two terms as tribal chairman and one term as vice-chairman and one term as secretary. He has worked serving Native…

Randy Romanski

Credentials: Panelist, Agriculture & Negative Emissions

Position title: Secretary, Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection

Randy Romanski was named to lead DATCP by Gov. Tony Evers in June 2020. He served as deputy secretary from January 2019 to November 2019, when he was named interim secretary. Under Gov. Jim Doyle, Romanski served as DATCP’s deputy secretary and secretary, working on…

Rebecca Webster

Credentials: Panelist, Agriculture & Negative Emissions

Position title: Assistant Professor, Department of American Indian Studies, University of Minnesota-Duluth

Rebecca Webster is an enrolled citizen of the Oneida Nation whose research interests focus on tribal governance and food sovereignty. Her philosophy is that every time an indigenous person plants a seed, that is an…

Thea Whitman

Credentials: Panelist, Agriculture & Negative Emissions

Position title: Associate Professor, UW-Madison, Department of Soil Science

Thea Whitman’s research is in soil biogeochemistry and microbiology, and includes an emphasis on soil carbon cycling, wildfires, and pyrogenic organic matter or “biochar.” Her publications include consideration of greenhouse gas accounting in renewable biomass systems,…