Changing climate patterns already affect agriculture in the United States, and the effects will become more pronounced over the next 20 years. To sustain the ability to provide affordable food, feed, fiber and fuel in the future, U.S. agriculture and forestry will need to take a broad, collaborative approach in planning for and adapting to change, according to a new report from the 25x”25 Alliance.
The report, "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 group outlined the report in a web-based news conference on April 2. Panelists for the conference included:
- Fred Yoder - Chairman of the Adaptation Work Group and Past President of the National Corn Growers Association
- Gene Takle - Iowa State Climate Science Program Director
- Chuck Rice - Kansas State University Distinguished Professor of Soil Microbiology, Past-President of the Soil Science Society of America
- Ray Gaesser - Iowa Grain Farmer and First Vice President of the American Soybean Association
The 25x’25 Alliance is a broad coalition of groups centered on a goal of U.S. farms, ranches and forests producing 25 percent of U.S. energy needs by 2025, while continuing to meet demands for food, feed and fiber. The group believes U.S. agriculture can achieve that goal, but says climate change will add to the challenges. To address those challenges, 25x’25 assembled a diverse Adaptation Work Group, which produced the recommendations in the report.
During the news conference, Iowa State University professor Eugene Takle, who also serves as director of ISU’s Climate Science program, displayed graphs from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA showing a steady increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide since 1960, coinciding with a steady increase in global temperatures.
Takle also showed data from Iowa illustrating the increase in weather extremes. Annual precipitation, on average, has increased in Iowa since 1870, and so have heavy-rainfall years. Since 1950, Iowa has had five years with precipitation averaging over 40 inches. Between 1870 and 1950, there were three such years. There also have been more dry years – seven with precipitation less than 25 inches since 1950 compared with 5 between 1870 and 1950.