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Zack Robbins

Analysis of State Climate Adaptation Plans Related to Food and Agriculture


As the impacts of climate change become increasingly apparent, society is becoming more serious about the need to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and begin preparing for a changing climate. The needs are profound—practically every area of our economy and society will be impacted and we need comprehensive plans that address multiple areas of concern.

Among these sectors, agriculture and food production are arguably the most important areas for adaptation. As IATP has detailed in past reports, the impacts of climate change—more volatile weather, increased pest and disease issues, reduced overall precipitation—are expected to hit farming hard, all as we demand greater production to meet food, materials and energy needs. These challenges make it clear that our food and agricultural system and the people that work in these sectors need to be prepared for the changing climate. As a result, adequate preparation for climate change should be among the highest priorities of our governments.

At IATP, we wanted to see how and if our federal and state governments are undertaking this needed planning process to deal with the impacts of a changing climate from a food and agricultural perspective. The result is this first-of-its-kind analysis by Zack Robbins. His findings, as you will see, indicate that some work has been undertaken, but from our perspective, climate adaptation planning is currently well behind what is needed to meet the existing and expected challenges associated with climate change.

In the recommendations that follow this report, you’ll see what IATP views as necessary considerations for state and other local governments in their climate adaptation planning to ensure more resilient and adaptive food and agriculture systems. IATP has worked for many years to identify and promote agricultural systems and food production approaches that both adapt to a changing climate and help to mitigate greenhouse emissions. Such systems and approaches do exist and are being developed, but need to be advanced and supported in a much more significant manner. Of critical importance to the success of shifting our food and agriculture systems is the direct involvement of farmers and rural leaders.

As the people on the “front lines” of climate change, farmers and rural residents are already dealing with the impacts, and as a result, are likely the best source for viable strategies going forward. As future climate policies and adaptation strategies are being developed, it is incumbent on our policymakers and leadership to make sure that farmers, rural citizens and others that are most likely to be impacted are at the table.

Jim Kleinschmit, Director
Climate and Energy Initiatives

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