Climate

Corn Growers: Climate Change Is ‘A Grave Threat To Rural Livelihoods And Quality Of Life’

Corn farmers concerned about the impact of climate change are speaking out, calling the problem “a grave threat” to the nation’s agricultural sector.

Responding to the increase in severe weather — and the prospects for a “quantum jump” in such devastating events — a group of corn farmers is renewing calls for policies to help cut global warming pollution.

The American Corn Growers Association is highlighting statements made by its former president, saying that farmers are “at the front lines of global warming”:

Bolin, who farms near Manlius, Illinois, and who served as president of American Corn Growers Association from 2004 – 2012, said he felt there was no doubt that the weather has become more extreme, with high rainfall and severe droughts more prevalent today. He expressed concern for the ability of farmers to deal with and adapt to the changing environment. Bolin urges public policy to further develop alternative renewable energy resources, along with efforts to educate and inform agricultural producers to prepare for and adapt to the changing environment, to ensure adequate food and energy production.

“There’s simply no substitute for good soil and a stable climate for growing crops,” Bolin said. “That puts farmers at the front lines of global warming — it’s a grave threat to rural livelihoods and quality of life. That’s why I support EPA policies to cut global warming pollution from automobiles and power plants.”

The ACGA has been a strong supporter of climate policies. In 2009, led by Bolin, the organization put its support behind the comprehensive climate bill that eventually failed in Congress.

As a new report from Environment Illinois shows, the impact of intensifying extreme weather on the agricultural sector is substantial. Record-breaking floods along the Missouri River caused more than $200 million in crop damages in Iowa last year; the recent warming-induced drought in Texas cost farmers in the state more than $7 billion; and a sudden shift from extremely wet conditions to extremely dry conditions in the Midwest reduced corn yields by a billion bushels in 2011.

Of course, the agricultural sector also plays a major role in climate change. Farming operations across the U.S. represented about 6.2% of all greenhouse gas emissions in 2011, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. And agriculture was responsible for about 29% of all methane emissions — a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

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14 Responses to Corn Growers: Climate Change Is ‘A Grave Threat To Rural Livelihoods And Quality Of Life’

  1. squidboy6 says:

    I hope that this election year is a watershed-event where the facade of republican denials finally cracks beneath the weight of reality. Too late, I know, but it’s a heartening thing when a group as republican as corn growers raise concerns because they’re out there and they see the potential, and the destruction that Climate Change has caused.

    The republican’s unity of money, anti-science, and anti-tax is splitting up and the result will be a better government and a more equal unity of purpose. The red-herring that the right used, “world government” – dominated by socialism, was old and worn out when it was introduced many decades ago. It’s been kept alive by using extreme life-support measures!

  2. Steve Lounsbury says:

    WOW! Aren’t these the same corn growers who supported all the lies generated by the GOP?

    So now, it would appear that the shoe is on the other foot.

  3. prokaryotes says:

    It doesn’t look very promising. There is this total disconnect from this growing national urgency to act and any kind of real progression to combat the greatest threat for civilization.

    The people who make the laws in this world forget about the slow inertia of the climate system.

  4. climatehawk1 says:

    No, that’s the National Corn Growers Association, which is quite a bit larger than ACGA.

  5. Gail Zawacki says:

    “Bolin said efforts to supplement fossil fuels with renewables such as ethanol, biodiesel and wind energy have already been good for rural America and will help in the mitigation of the effects of climate change.”

    Seriously, ethanol and biodiesel? Those aren’t part of the solution, they’re part of the problem. So far the farmers seem to care about their profits, not climate change.

  6. colinc says:

    Bazinga!

  7. Leif says:

    With the erratic rainfall and dwindling aquifers in the Midwest it is only a matter of time before the huge corn farms are broken up into smaller parcels to be managed by individuals that rely on labor intensive high value permaculture crops that can be irrigated with captured rain fall and recycled gray waters. Crops might need to be temporally sheltered from hail storm damage and on raised beds to make use of flood waters. (More water storage if managed correctly.) Soil rehabilitated with biochar is another small farm intensive advantage as well. Lots of folks would love to get out of the rat race of city slum living and be given a chance to live sustainable lives in a clean environment and caring communities.

  8. A farmer has to plant this year in the expectation that it will be just like last year. He lives within the ordinary variability of the climate.

    When that variability gets too much, his yields suffer. It’s as simple as that. When the variability wipes him out — Australia, Pakistan, Russia, Thailand — we all suffer.

  9. M Tucker says:

    Too bad we don’t see all corn farmers speaking out. Too bad we don’t see all wheat, cotton, soybean, rice, and alfalfa farmers speaking out. They all see the signs: the ever earlier spring planting accompanied with the worry of a late spring frost, unpredictable precipitation, unprecedented heat waves. Those who can afford to take adaptive action are doing so but those actions are expensive and they do not solve all problems. But instead of working to address the underlying cause and protect American agriculture for posterity they side with the minions of the fossil fuel industry and buffoons like Inhofe. They have a vested interest in protecting the climate but they vote for the side that will destroy the climate. Republican voters are characterized by consistently voting against their own best interests.

  10. Paul Magnus says:

    The previous article in this series is also worth a read…

    June bugs in March give this farmer pause:
    http://www.acga.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=175&Itemid=42

    On this farm we have moved from asking why this is happening, why doesn’t everyone agree, and why the weathermen can’t get it right. Today we’re asking how. How are we going to deal with the effects of a changing climate on our farm, how early do we plant, how do we manage our risks and market our crops? How are we going to help the rest of our world survive in a changing environment and mitigate the changes that are taking place long-term? Cumulatively, how are we going to protect our farms, our livestock, our productive capacity, and our families in the decades to come?

    Farmers’ endless optimism sometimes gets in the way. Years of struggle, ups and downs, and we start to believe that things have a way of working out. But ask the folks near the Missouri or Mississippi Rivers, who dealt with the 300 year floods last year, their thoughts now.

  11. Paul Magnus says:

    Gail one you’d be interested to read….

    Global warming kills old-growth forests at stunning rate
    https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=159322520860213&id=139434822741700

    The death of old-growth forests in the western United States and Canada is increasing at a stunning rate,… Scientists have found that tree mortality has more than doubled in the last few decades regardless of elevation, forest type or tree size as pines, firs, hemlocks and other species are dying faster than new trees are growing.

    What’s worse, the stands surveyed were considered healthy and resilient, which suggests that the trees in mountain-pine-beetle-infested regions such as British Columbia and those hit by an increase in forest-fire rates are dying at an even more dramatic clip

  12. Paul Magnus says:

    Times are changing…
    Albertan Oil Sands political candidate gets booed at debate on question on CC…

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/albertavotes2012/story/2012/04/19/albertavotes2012-cbc-leaders-forum.html

  13. Gail Zawacki says:

    Thanks Paul – that study which the story is based on is van Mantgem’s, from 2009. There have been several since – Peng et al about the Canadian Boreal forest, which is important because it studies sites without any insect or disease activity – and a grand meta-analysis, specifically linking tree death to ozone, from Wittig et al.

    Links to these and others can be found in my new “treetise” (!) which can be downloaded for free at

    http://witsendnj.blogspot.com/2012/04/pillage-plunder-pollute-llc.html

  14. Solar Jim says:

    RE: “methane emissions — a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide.”

    This is an incorrect assertion. Methane is about 100 times as potent a greenhouse gas compared to carbonic acid gas. The statement could be made more accurate by the inclusion of the qualifying statement “when factoring in its atmospheric reactions over a century.”