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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