WASHINGTON, June 25, 2014 -- While a report released Tuesday warns of potential disruptions to the American economy, including the farm sector, from climate change, an agribusiness leader shared how farmers will meet the challenge as they have met many throughout history – by adaptation.
The report, “Risky Business: The Economic Risks of Climate Change in the United States,” is a product of a joint, non-partisan initiative of former Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr., former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Thomas P. Steyer, former senior managing member of Farallon Capital Management.
Among the sectors included in the study is agriculture, where climate change is causing shifting patterns in crop production and yields. The report suggests that by continuing on the current path, without adaptation, U.S. commodity crop production could decline by 14 percent by mid-century and by up to 42 percent by late century as extreme heat spreads across the middle of the country.
Gregory Page, executive chairman and former CEO of Cargill Inc., was a member of the panel that helped set the scope of the research for the report and reviewed its findings.
Page said the report’s value is in the “encouragement it will provide to our business leaders to think long term about what actions we can begin taking today to be in the best position for what the future brings.”
In a conference call with reporters, Page said agriculture has always been inextricably linked with the environment. He noted that farmers, who are used to taking a long-term, multi-generational approach to things, see the effects of climate change every day, and are adapting to it.
Though the report projects possible large reductions in production late in this century, Page said the forecasts are based on business as usual. It doesn’t look at how farmers and supply chain partners will respond and adapt over the next eight or nine decades.
Instead, Page said farmers and supply chain partners will likely do as they’ve always done when facing a changing climate and weather pattern – adapt and show their resilience.
Speaking for the agricultural sector, Page said, “We may well face an evolving and uncertain climate and weather environment, but we are highly confident, optimistic and committed to making those innovations and adaptations that give us the flexibility to produce enough food in spite of localized disruptions.”
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