The release this week by the 25x’25 Alliance of a report that offers the U.S. agriculture and forestry sectors recommendations to meet the challenges posed by increasingly variable and unpredictable weather is only the first step in a process aimed at enabling U.S. producers to succeed in a changing climate.
Agriculture and Forestry in a Changing Climate: Adaptation Recommendations was compiled by the 25x’25 Adaptation Work Group, a collaboration of agriculture, forestry, business, academic, conservation and government leaders who have spent more than 18 months exploring the impacts of a changing climate and other variables on U.S. agriculture and forestry. The work group has focused on production systems, risk management, ecosystem services and communications.
The weather-related disaster of 2011 and 2012, not to mention the less-than-optimistic projections of continuing drought this year, underscore the need to mitigate risks posed by changes in our climate. The report strongly asserts that with certain steps that can allow growers to adapt to increasingly harsh weather patterns, farmers, ranchers and foresters will meet the 25x’25 food, feed, fiber and fuel goals while continuing to cut their input costs and improve the quality of their land.
But it’s important that stakeholders get a full grasp on the changes occurring and learn what can be done to combat them. The release of the report sets the stage for a wider outreach effort aimed at generating dialogue and fostering a greater understanding within the agricultural and forestry sectors of just what’s at stake.
To that end, the 25x’25 Alliance will be supporting key outreach partners, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Corn Growers Association, American Soybean Association and other producer groups by offering presentations, workshops, webinars and additional forums that can give their respective memberships recommendations that can not only sustain, but build their operations through near term, high value and low-cost solutions.
While the roster of partners joining in this effort is lengthy, the 25x’25 Alliance and the Adaptation Work Group that compiled the report issued this week strongly urge all affected stakeholders to play a role in advancing the recommendations and seeing to their implementation.
Farmers, ranchers and foresters understand that the impacts of changing weather patterns vary by region, and that they generally include higher temperatures; changing precipitation patterns; new threats from weeds, pests and diseases; increased humidity and stronger storms.
Many producers are learning that there are options available to address this uncertainty. But that message must get to an even wider audience. And the 25x’25 Alliance welcomes all who want to help promote those steps that can improve productivity, profitability, stewardship and self-determination. Producers and policy makers alike have a stake in insuring the success of our agriculture and forestry sectors, both mainstays of the U.S. economy.
The recommendations call for supporting research that create more accurate climate forecasting, the implementation of conservations practices that address changing weather conditions, maintaining a robust federal crop insurance program and funding adaptation measures, and the development of new tools (like smartphone applications) that make it easier for producers to use adaptation information.
A critical recommendation that is exemplified by the compilation and release of the report is the call for producer-to-producer dialogues that connect growers in areas experiencing changing conditions with those who have already addressed similar challenges. Furthermore, there must be ongoing dialogue between scientists, policy makers and producer organizations. Producers and trade associations must be involved in research decisions and implementation.
With this week’s report, the 25x’25 Alliance and its many supporting partners are ready to broaden the discussion and address serious challenges with serious solutions. As the Adaptation Work Group has succinctly stated in the report, “With forethought, leadership and the right priorities, our nation’s agriculture and forestry systems cannot only meet future challenges, but thrive in the midst of them.”