Thursday, February 07, 2013

Farms and forests will suffer generally from climate change, USDA says in new reports

Climate change will have a generally detrimental effect on American farms and forests, especially after 2050, the Department of Agriculture said in two reports this week.

"Over the next 25 years, the effects of climate change on agricultural production and economic outcomes for both producers and consumers in the United States are expected to be mixed, depending on regional conditions," USDA said in a press release. "Beyond 2050, changes are expected to include shifts in crop production areas, increases in pest control expenses, and greater disease prevalence." To download a 193-page PDF of the report, click here.

Climate change will make farmers "alter where they grow crops and costing them millions of dollars in additional costs to tackle weeds, pests and diseases that threaten their operations," Christopher Doering reports from Washington for USA Today and other Gannett Co. newspapers. Jerry Hatfield, lead author of the study, told Doering, "We're going to end up in a situation where we have a multitude of things happening that are going to negatively impact crop production. In fact, we saw this in 2012 with the drought." (Read more)

Forests will face increased threats from fire, insects, invasive species, "and combinations of
multiple stressors," the release said. "Wildfire is expected to increase throughout the United States, causing at least a doubling of area burned" by 2050. For a PDF of the 282-page USDA report on forests and climate change, go here.

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