Farm

Those of us who don’t grow our own food may lose sight of how much risk is involved in agriculture. But the recent floods in the Midwest are just the latest reminder that farming can be a precarious occupation in times of climate change, with its unpredictable and sometimes downright wild weather.

Too little water or too much, days too hot or too cold, unexpected shifts in the timing of all these things: any such disruption can put farmers in trouble. As the headline of a worthwhile overview story in The Guardian puts it, “As Climate Change Bites in America’s Midwest, Farmers are Desperate to Ring the Alarm.”

Farmers face climate change threats. So why does the ag interest group keep quiet on the topic? Click To Tweet

But what does it mean for farmers when the most powerful agricultural organization in the country, the American Farm Bureau Federation, isn’t so sure human-caused climate change is real and disapproves of nearly all proposed means of lessening its impacts? And why might such an organization hold those views?

According to the climate change page on the Farm Bureau website and its factsheet, the group approves of biofuels and “market-based solutions,” but not of carbon taxes, cap-and-trade, or emissions reporting; regulation by the EPA or “any other legislative vehicle”; anything that might “make America less competitive”; and any action by the U.S. that isn’t matched or exceeded by “other countries.”

For a wide-ranging and eye-opening education about this powerful organization, read “Harvesting Peril: Extreme Weather and Climate Change on the American Farm.” This series of three articles (plus an infographic and short video) from Georgina Gustin and others at Inside Climate News provides a strong rationale for appreciating the difficulties farmers face in part because of the Farm Bureau’s many-pronged political and cultural influence.

Next time: Some climate-aware alternatives for farmers.


This series is curated and written by retired Colorado State University English professor and close climate change watcher SueEllen Campbell of Colorado. To flag works you think warrant attention, send an e-mail to her any time. Let us hear from you.

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