Multiple adverse effects of the climate crisis have been documented in U.S. agriculture, including:
- Intensified droughts, floods, and storms;
- Stresses on crops, livestock, and farm personnel from higher summer temperatures;
- Disruption of seasonal development, flowering, and fruiting in horticultural crops;
- Shifting pest, weed, and disease life cycles and geographic ranges; and
- Disproportionate impacts on economically disadvantaged rural communities
Certainly, farmers in the Midwest experienced some of these impacts this spring and summer with hurricanes, record setting rains, and summer drought.
Although agriculture currently affects our climate through direct greenhouse gas emissions and the indirect loss of carbon in our soil, a report released this week demonstrates how organic and ecological farming can be a critical part of the solution to climate change.
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC)’s new report, Agriculture and Climate Change: Policy Imperatives and Opportunities to Help Producers Meet the Challenge offers policy and program recommendations, including:
- Remove barriers and strengthen support for organic and sustainable production systems;
- Support climate-friendly livestock production systems and end subsidies for CAFOs;
- Fund public plant and animal breeding for climate-resilient agriculture;
- Increase the emphasis on climate mitigation and adaptation through Natural Resources Conservation Service working lands and easement programs, and the Conservation Reserve Program; and
- Apply a whole farm emphasis across U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) programming, including Whole Farm Revenue Protection insurance
As a member of NSAC, OEFFA supports the immediate transition to a resilient food and agriculture system based on the sustainable and organic practices detailed in the NSAC report. If you are an OEFFA member who would like to be active in our climate change work, contact us today. If you are a farmer on the front lines of this issue, please consider signing on to this national letter on climate change from farmers to members of Congress and the current administration.
Helping farmers build the resilience of their operations to withstand the effects of climate change will be the focus of OEFFA’s 41st annual conference: A Climate for Change, February 13-15, 2020 in Dayton, Ohio. Friday keynote speaker Laura Legnick is the author of the 2015 book, Resilient Agriculture: Cultivating Food Systems for a Changing Climate, and contributed to the third National Climate Assessment as a lead author of the USDA report Climate Change and U.S. Agriculture: Effects and Adaptation. Saturday keynote speaker Eric Holt-Giménez, an agroecologist, political economist, activist, and author of the book, Can We Feed the World without Destroying It? He will explore the need to harness our diversity to forge the political will to achieve climate justice.