USDA says climate change hurting ag

Published online: May 09, 2014
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The National Climate Assessment report announced May 6 claims climate change is affecting every region of the U.S. and critical sectors of the economy like agriculture. The weather change is being blamed on many risk factors for farmers and ranchers as well as rural communities.

By mid-century and beyond, weather impacts will be increasingly negative on most crops and livestock, according to this third climate assessment report. USDA’s Director of the Climate Change Program Office commented on the report.

In a follow-up to the announcement, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack’s office released an evaluation of the situation and listed what the Obama administration and USDA have been doing to lessen the impact and prepare for the future.

“Across the country, farmers, ranchers and forest landowners are seeing an increase in risks to their operations due to fires, increases in invasive pests, droughts and floods. In the Midwest, growing seasons have lengthened, the western fire season is now longer and forests will become increasingly threatened by insect outbreaks, fire drought and storms over the next 50 years. These events threaten America’s food supply and are costly for producers and rural economies. Drought alone was estimated to cost the U.S. $50 billion from 2011 to 2013. Such risks have implications not only for agricultural producers, but for all Americans,” Vilsack said.

“The Obama administration continues to take steps to responsibly cut carbon pollution, slow the effects of climate change and support an expanded domestic energy economy. At USDA, we’re working closely with our nation’s farmers, ranchers and forest landowners to help them manage the negative impacts of climate change, reduce their energy costs and grow the bioeconomy to create jobs in rural America.

Vilsack provided outlines of 10 programs or steps the administration is spending money on to address the impacts of climate change.