It doesn’t always require complicated scientific discourse. Oftentimes, the evidence is obvious. All one has to do is look at the ground to see what’s going on in the wake of climate change. Sure, the changes are gradual – not as easy to detect as say damage from a hurricane or a tornado. Yet, the damage, though covert, is still severe.
According to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, the first way to respond to climate change is to actually address it. Severe weather is repeatedly hitting fields, destroying crops and land. These unfortunate weather patterns are already negatively impacting farmers and will only continue to do so. Vilsack warns that the impact will be drastic.
“You’re going to see crops produced in one area no longer able to be produced,” Vilsack warns. “This problem is not going to go away on its own.”
What exactly is the problem?
According to a February report conducted by the USDA, the following negative phenomena are expected to surface: surging temperature increases and carbon dioxide concentrations, and water unavailability. These changes will not only wreak havoc on crop production; animal production will take a hit as well.
So, what’s the solution for farmers?
There has to be some light in what appears to be a pretty grim situation. Fortunately, there is. In fact, the solution is pretty simple. Adapt. Sure, this adaptive process will take decades to implement. Even if implemented effectively, will it be enough to spare farmers a great loss?
To help deal with what’s bound to occur, the USDA is launching numerous outreach and extension programs to farmers, ranchers and forest landowners. These campaigns will focus on carbon assessment, farmland management, as well as provide new cover-cropping guidelines for growers.
This is improvement; however, the discussion of farmland protection must extend beyond the realm of farming. The focus must be on the entire food system, inviting greater diversity into the crops harvested. Greater diversity translates to less loss. In other words, it is difficult to have a crop that has only one favorable climate. Having a variety of crops that respond differently in the face of severe weather is more ideal because you are more likely to have one (or more) crops brave the elements.
The bottom-line: Farmers cannot continue to do the same old thing. Adaptation is key in order to successfully respond to the inevitable consequences of climate change.
If you’re considering financing farmland, financing agricultural land, or pursuing ranch financing, it’s important to be aware of these impending transformations and, also, be willing to adapt.