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Rural Economies Already Affected by Extreme Weather



Contact Ben Lilliston, 612-741-8650,

Minneapolis/Washington, D.C. – President Donald Trump’s decision today to remove the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement is a blow to farmers and rural economies already battling with increasingly extreme weather linked to climate change, said the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP).

“Perhaps no sector is more vulnerable to climate change than agriculture,” said IATP’s Director of Climate Programs Ben Lilliston. “The President’s decision to turn his back on global efforts to address climate change will hurt farmers in the U.S. and around the world. It is inexplicable and in willful denial of the urgent challenges already facing farmers and rural communities.”

The Trump Administration’s decision comes on the heels of a budget proposal that included major cuts in farm conservation programs that support climate resilient practices for farmers, and the elimination of rural economic development programs that are supporting the new clean energy economy. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (21%) and the Environmental Protection Agency (31%) took among the biggest cuts. The EPA has begun to dismantle the Clean Power Plan – the primary policy to reduce greenhouse emissions and meet the United States’ global climate goals.

Trump’s decision comes as U.S. farmers are recovering from thousands of cattle lost to wildfires in Oklahoma and Texas, a dramatically stunted winter wheat crop in Kansas due to a late spring blizzard, an historic re-plant of corn due to washouts from heavy rains, and an estimated 940,000 agricultural acres severely damaged in Arkansas historic flooding.

“The Trump Administration is buying a fallacy that responding to climate change will hurt the economy,” said Lilliston. “In fact, it is the cost of not responding that will hurt the most. In the U.S. and elsewhere we are seeing emission reductions combined with economic growth. Farmers and agribusiness are building climate resilience into their planning. The Trump Administration is badly out of step and increasingly isolated on climate change.”

At the G7 meeting in Italy last week, the U.S. was the only country that declined to support the Paris climate agreement. The decision to opt out of the Paris climate agreement puts the U.S. in exclusive company with Syria and Nicaragua as the only countries outside of the agreement. A dozen U.S. Governors, more than 70 U.S. city Mayors, and more than 350 major U.S. companies have called on the President to stay in the Paris Climate agreement. Business leaders have already warned that the U.S. could face carbon tariffs in the future as a result of this decision, an example of how this decision will have ramifications beyond just climate policy.

The Trump Administration’s decision is not surprising. While campaigning, Trump called climate change a hoax. The Trump Administration has close ties to the fossil industry including the former CEO of Exxon/Mobil, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and EPA chief Scott Pruitt.

Natural resource-based rural economies are particularly vulnerable to climate change, and many rural communities are already taking action. In 2015, IATP and more than 20 rural groups published a comprehensive set of Rural Climate Policy Priorities focused on building rural resilience:


Based in Minneapolis with offices in Washington, D.C. and Berlin, Germany, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy connects the dots of global justice to ensure fair and sustainable food, farm and trade systems.