Report: Climate change will change ag – but all is not lost

By Agri-Pulse staff

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, May 28, 2014 - A report released last week by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs said climate change “will produce higher temperatures, changes in rainfall patterns, and more frequent natural disasters that, if unaddressed, will reduce the growth in global food production by an estimated 2 percent per decade for the rest of this century.”

Lets Talk Food

But the study, compiled by a number of experts led by former Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman and based on the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report and National Climate Assessment, also asserted that creating a resilient global agriculture system “is not an impossible task.”

The report makes a number of recommendations.

First, it asks Congress to pass legislation that commits the U.S. to a global food and nutrition security strategy. The U.S. Agency for International Development, which helps to coordinate the global food security Feed the Future initiative with a number of other agencies, including USDA, released last week its own nutrition strategy, though that plan does not need congressional authorization. Its goals - all by the year 2020 -- are to help  500 million pregnant women and children under 2 years of age; to avert 20 million additional cases of stunting, and prevent 1.7 million deaths through efforts to reduce stunting and increase breastfeeding.

The Chicago Council's report also urges lawmakers to increase funding for agricultural research that would help mitigate the effects of climate change. USDA spends approximately $120 million a year on climate change-related research.

Though President Barack Obama announced in January a regional climate hub program meant to galvanize climate change scientists around specific research areas, the program takes pains to avoid spending taxpayer dollars by making use of existing land grant facilities and staff.

For many worried about climate change, however, those funds were not enough.

The report acknowledges that funding is difficult to come by, especially in today's tight-fisted political climate. But it asks lawmakers to leverage public-private partnerships to increase attention to the issue.

“These recommendations make suggestions for how to improve the efficiency of current funding for agricultural development, food and nutrition security, agriculture and food research and climate change,” the report's authors write. “But some increases in spending are necessary. Policymakers can and must find the will to make these investments happen.”

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