Farmers and ranchers from across the nation are still reeling from the worst drought in 50 years, but more bad news is on the horizon. According to the USDA, climate change could devastate the country’s agricultural industry within the next century.
Published in two reports, one focused on agriculture and the other on forestry, climate change effects and adaptation strategies for both industries are outlined.
“These reports present the challenges that U.S. agriculture and forests will face in this century from global climate change,” William Hohenstein, director of the Climate Change Program Office in USDA’s Office of the Chief Economist, said in a news release issued on Tuesday. “They give us a framework for understanding the implications of climate change, in order to meet our future demands for food, feed, fiber, and fuel.”
According to USA Today, the accelerating pace and intensity of climate change may be too much for the often-resilient industry to take.
"We're going to end up in a situation where we have a multitude of things happening that are going to negatively impact crop production," said Jerry Hatfield, a laboratory director and plant physiologist with USDA's Agricultural Research Service and lead author of the study. "In fact, we saw this in 2012 with the drought."
The USDA’s report outlines how climate change will likely effect agriculture. During the next quarter-century, producers will adjust as the climate change dictates to ensure maximum profits and productivity, but by the latter half of the century adapting to climate change will be even more costly and difficult.
Crops aren’t the only ones affected. Livestock will also be impacted by raising temperatures, which will hurt productivity and limit production.