New Ways To Grow: Agriculture & Food

The current $23.3 billion impact that agriculture provides to Arizona’s economy is growing. While the agricultural sector will continue to face climate risks related to water shortages and extended drought, deploying innovation and understanding the importance of using every drop of water efficiently are critical. From the traditional practices of Native American agriculture to technological innovation, Arizona is a testament to doing a lot with little. We heard from experts on how our state is transitioning to sustainable solutions to mitigate climate change and learn what more we need to do to ensure resiliency and continued growth in this industry.

Actions / What We Heard:

  • Reducing emissions without harming the economy is the focus of the Growing Climate Solutions Act. Advocating for this legislation empowers America’s agricultural producers to play a voluntary role in mitigating the impacts of climate change by reducing emissions or sequestering carbon while generating additional revenue.

  • Agriculture can be a part of the solution to climate change. Better soil management enables healthy soil that can sequester carbon, fight disease, and retain water – all of which are critical to ongoing crop development while improving producers’ bottom lines.

  • Growing food more efficiently through automation and plant science is critical to reducing the environmental footprint of agriculture. Vertical-plane aeroponics is the most productive and environmentally efficient cultivation technology on the planet, and it can benefit human health and society by reconnecting people with how food is grown.


Kathleen Merrigan

Executive Director, Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems, ASU

Kathleen Merrigan is an expert in food and agriculture, celebrated by Time Magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2010. Currently, she serves as the Kelly and Brian Swette Professor in the School of Sustainability and executive director of the Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems at Arizona State University. From 2009 to 2013, Merrigan was deputy secretary and COO of the United States Department of Agriculture, where she led efforts to support local food systems. She is known for authoring the law establishing national standards for organic food and the federal definition of sustainable agriculture.


Paul Brierley

Executive Director

Yuma Center of Excellence for Desert Agriculture

Paul Brierley was raised on a family farm in central California, completed an Electrical Engineering and Computer Science degree from the University of Colorado, and conducted applied telecommunications research in the San Francisco Bay area before returning to his agricultural roots. With a background in agriculture, research, leadership and politics, Paul was chosen to serve as the inaugural Executive Director of the University of Arizona’s Yuma Center of Excellence for Desert Agriculture, which he has built into a highly effective research organization focused on the pressing problems of desert agriculture.

Sam Bertram

CEO, OnePointOne

Samuel Bertram and his brother John founded OnePointOne, Inc. in July of 2017 with a mission to nourish the 1.1 billion people that began this millennium hungry. Since then, Samuel has raised $27MM from notable investors such as Fred Luddy, Novak Djokovic, and HRH Khaled bin Alwaleed. With that funding, the incredible team at OnePointOne has built the most advanced vertical farming technology on the market. Samuel also sits on the Stanford University Engineering Board of Advisors as well as the Santa Clara University Engineering Board of Advisors.


Mike Obeiter

Senior Director, Federal Climate Strategy
National Audubon Society

Mike Obeiter is an experienced energy and environmental policy analyst with a demonstrated history of working across the public, private, and non-profit sectors. Prior to joining Audubon, Mike was a senior public affairs advisor at Holland and Knight, LLP. He also served as a senior associate for the climate program at World Resources Institute, focusing on issues that included renewable energy, carbon pricing, and methane reduction. He is a former analyst for energy and the environment for the U.S. Senate Budget Committee.

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