Harvesting Peril: Extreme Weather and Climate Change on the American Farm


Farmers are on the front lines of
climate change. Their crops completely depend on the weather, and that weather is getting more extreme
because of global warming. Their farms face drought, flooding, wildfires, insects that destroy crops, and the risks are getting worse. While farmers are victims of climate change, agriculture also helps cause climate change. Globally, farming is responsible for as much
as a quarter of the problem. But farmland has enormous potential
to help solve the climate crisis, and that’s especially true in the U.S. Farmers could profit from a
transformation of the farm economy that could be as dramatic as the revolution
in the energy economy. So, why hasn’t this happened? I’m Georgina Gustin, reporter
with InsideClimate News. We’ve been exploring the role of the farm industry’s biggest and most powerful lobbying group. For decades, the American Farm Bureau
has fought off any effort to deal with climate change. The Farm Bureau was instrumental in keeping
the U.S. out of the landmark Kyoto treaty to lower
greenhouse gases. Then, it helped beat back Congress’s
most promising attempt to pass a national climate law. Time after time, the Farm Bureau
sided with the fossil fuel lobby against regulations on
coal, gas, and oil pollution. Agriculture is rooted in science. But the Farm Bureau chose to join the fossil fuel industry in denying the basic science of climate change. The Farm Lobby won billions of dollars
in subsidized crop insurance. Insurance that encourages risky farming
and then pays off when the crops fail. The Farm Bureau’s affiliates sell these policies
and we as taxpayers pay for them. There’s little incentive and no mandate to
farm in ways that protect the climate. Climate friendly farming could suck huge amounts
of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere That would offset pollution from fossil fuels. Other industries have started to do their part. But agricultural emissions are still rising. These missed opportunities mean that the world
is going to have a much harder time feeding itself as
the planet gets hotter.

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