climate change

Report: Crop insurance premiums could skyrocket as climate change intensifies 

Taxpayers shelled out nearly $40 billion in crop insurance premiums in the Mississippi River region between 2001 and 2020, and that number is expected to increase sharply as climate change intensifies, according to an analysis of Department of Agriculture data by the Environmental Working Group that was released Wednesday. 

Flood of applications for climate-smart funding

More than 350 groups proposed climate-smart pilot projects to help farmers develop a market for sustainably produced commodities, said the Agriculture Department on Tuesday. The large-scale projects, with budgets of up to $100 million, would draw on $1 billion in targeted USDA funding.

‘Nobel Prize of Agriculture’ awarded to NASA climate scientist

NASA climatologist Cynthia Rosenzweig, one of the first scientists to document the impact of climate change on food production, is this year’s winner of the $250,000 World Food Prize, said the Food Prize foundation on Thursday. “Dr. Rosenzweig has brought powerful computational tools into practical application in agriculture and food systems,” said foundation president Barbara Stinson during an announcement ceremony at the State Department.

Global tally of acute food insecurity rises 26 percent

Around 193 million people in 53 countries and territories experienced acute food insecurity at crisis or worse levels in 2021, an increase of 40 million from the previous year. “The situation is expected to worsen in 2022,” said a report by the Global Network Against Food Crises on Wednesday.

Stabenow: ‘Help farmers do more’ to mitigate climate change

Farmers are ready to act on global warming "and we need to help them do more," said Senate Agriculture chairwoman Debbie Stabenow at the committee's first hearing on the 2023 farm bill, held at Michigan State University. "We've seen the overwhelming popularity of voluntary conservation programs."

Premature to talk about next steps on climate change — Vilsack

The USDA will seek maximum impact from the $1 billion that it will put into climate-smart pilot projects, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Monday, but he demurred at discussing next steps for agriculture in mitigating global warming. "We'll see where the applications take us," he told the North American Agricultural Journalists meeting.

California weighs farmwork in wildfire areas

As California braces for another brutal fire season, farming communities across the state are weighing what it will take to save their harvests — and who, exactly, should bear the brunt of the risks. In places like Sonoma County, those risks are increasingly shouldered by low-wage immigrant farmworkers who pick grapes and milk cows inside the county’s evacuated areas during wildfires. Their work is facilitated by Sonoma’s “ag pass” program, which allows farmers to bring workers into areas that other residents have been told to flee. (No paywall)

Bringing back ‘good fire’ to the eastern seaboard

“A growing movement of scientists, land management agencies, conservation organizations, and indigenous groups is working to return fire to fire-adapted ecosystems, including forests and grasslands, throughout the U.S.,” writes Gabriel Popkin in FERN's latest story, published with Yale Environment 360.

Report: Land use and farming have crucial role to play in avoiding climate catastrophe

A major UN climate report released on Monday lays out a broad array of strategies for limiting emissions and mitigating climate change. While the most critical priority is to quickly phase out the use of fossil fuels, the report outlined many opportunities to help limit climate change by altering how land is managed and food is produced. And, critically, most of these options are “available and ready to deploy,” the authors wrote. (No paywall)

‘The truth is California does not have enough water’

California’s San Joaquin Valley is getting drier, hotter and more polluted as climate change intensifies, and its communities will need to embrace more equitable agricultural strategies in order to survive, according to local experts and political leaders.(No paywall)

Report: Food-system change ‘startlingly absent’ from countries’ climate change commitments

Food systems account for roughly a third of global greenhouse emissions worldwide, yet a new analysis finds that strategies to reform how food is grown, processed and consumed are “startlingly absent” from most countries’ plans to tackle climate change. (No paywall)

As Colorado River reaches ‘tipping point,’ farmers and tribes will play key role

Decades of drought and overuse have pushed the Colorado River to an ecological “tipping point,” and conservationists need to work closely with farmers and tribal nations to save it, several water experts said Wednesday at a webinar organized by the Nature Conservancy’s Colorado chapter.

Reward ‘early innovators’ of climate-smart farming, report says

The government and private sector will have roles in maintaining the progress made by the pioneers of climate-smart agriculture, said a group of experts working through the AGree farm-policy initiative on Tuesday. They recommended lower crop insurance premiums for farmers who use practices that reduce agricultural risk, bank lending policies that recognize the benefits of conservation practices, expansion of USDA stewardship programs, and inclusion of "early innovators" in the supply chain sustainability programs of food and beverage companies.

Less food, more wildfires in North America with climate change

Global warming "is causing dangerous and widespread disruptions in nature and affecting the lives of billions of people around the world," said a UN climate change report on Monday. Hotter weather and shifts in rainfall are likely to reduce food production in North America and are a risk to food security, said a fact sheet on climate change's impacts on the continent.

Report: Drought drained $1.2 billion from California ag in 2021

Drought cost California’s agricultural sector $1.2 billion and 8,750 full- and part-time jobs last year, according to a new report prepared for the state’s Department of Food and Agriculture. It is the  latest evidence that climate change is upending the country’s most productive agricultural region. 

Ethanol likely worse than gasoline for carbon emissions, say researchers

The Renewable Fuel Standard, which guarantees corn ethanol and other biofuels a share of the U.S. gasoline market, results in the release of at least as much carbon "and likely at least 24 percent higher" greenhouse gas emissions than the petroleum it displaced, say scientists who studied the program's first eight years.

USDA to put $1 billion into climate-smart pilot projects

The USDA will spend $1 billion on climate-smart pilot projects, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced on Monday, delivering on a pledge made last September to help farmers develop a market for sustainably produced commodities. The demonstration projects could change the shape of U.S. farm policy, but the clock already is ticking toward the 2023 farm bill and funding for climate mitigation is not certain.

What should Arizona farmers grow? A tire company hopes it’s guayule.

For decades, leaders [in the Southwest] have sought a way to equitably share what’s left of the shrinking supply, but there has always been one stubborn sticking point: Farmers consume three-quarters of the region’s precious water, often to grow thirsty, inedible crops like cotton and hay. Many of them have been here for a century or more, and they aren’t about to leave. So, why can’t they grow something that sucks less water?(No paywall)

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