Rising Heat From Climate Change Threatens U.S. Crop Yields

Source: By Jen Skerritt, Bloomberg • Posted: Monday, November 26, 2018

American farmers’ livelihoods are at risk from climate change as Midwestern grain yields are poised to tumble amid increasing temperatures and more extreme flooding and droughts, according to a new report.

Rising heat, drought, wildfires and heavy downpours are expected to increasingly disrupt agricultural productivity in the U.S., according to a National Climate Assessment report released Friday. While some northern regions may be able to expand production of alternative crops amid the changes, yields from major U.S. crops are poised to drop.

“Climate change is also expected to lead to large-scale shifts in the availability and prices of many agricultural products across the world, with corresponding impacts on U.S. agricultural producers and the U.S. economy,” the authors write. “These changes threaten future gains in commodity crop production and put rural livelihoods at risk.”

The report was published weeks earlier than expected and on a day that many Americans are occupied with family following the Thanksgiving holiday. President Donald Trump has rejected the global scientific consensus that humans are doing grave damage to the planet and has sought to roll back Obama-era initiatives to slow greenhouse gas pollution in favor of fossil fuels.

Many countries are already experiencing rapid price increases for basic food commodities due to production losses associated with more frequent weather extremes and unpredictable weather events, according to the report. Food security, which is already a challenge across the globe, is likely to be further disrupted from climate impacts in the U.S., a major exporter of agricultural commodities, the report states.

— With assistance by Eric Roston