Quincy, IL, June 20, 2008 -- Fields of corn are flooded and crops may be ruined for the year by the flooding waters of the Mississippi River in southern Illinois.

Climate Change & Agriculture

Climate change poses serious threats to both crops and livestock. Though slightly warmer temperatures may cause crops to grow more quickly, they can also reduce yield, as can the severe weather events like droughts and floods that are associated with climate change. Heat stress negatively impacts livestock, and lower crop yields could compromise the feed availability and quality for the animals. Warmer temperatures could also benefit pests and pathogens, which could then have a greater impact on livestock or crops. See the EPA's Agriculture and Food Supply page for more details.

"In a counterintuitive twist, climate change has left apple, cherry, and many other fruit trees especially vulnerable to killing frosts"

National Geographic's article "These 5 Foods Will Be Harder to Grow in a Warmer World", by Chris Woolston, highlights five crops that are being hindered by the changing climate. It follows crops like avocados and almonds that are suffering in Florida, but also talks about suffering crops that hit closer to home. It says "In 2012, apple trees in northern New York bloomed three to four weeks ahead of schedule, only to be hit hard by a late-March cold snap. Statewide, the harvest was worth about $250 million less than the year before", explaining that although the growing season is longer, the frequency of frost remains the same. Read the full article here.

"Many of the commodities that currently dominate the New York agricultural sector, like dairy products, apples, cabbage, and potatoes, are not well suited for the warming trends predicted for this century"

Cornell Climate Change has developed a fact sheet titled Farming Success In a Changing Climate, which also addresses the challenges that New York State will face as agriculture is affected by climate change. It mentions flooding and drought potential, heat stress, and challenges from pests, weeds, and livestock. However, the sheet also provides suggestions and solutions for some of these problems, hoping to provide farmers with information to predict the challenges they might face and the options they have. The fact sheet can be found here.

Cornell Climate Change's Agriculture Resources page also provides tools to help farmers mitigate and adapt to climate change, and links for further information and resources.

Last updated July 26, 2019