Climate Change Could Negatively Impact U.S. Crops

May 29, 2008 07:00 AM
by Lindsey Chapman
As the world faces a food crisis and the demand for ethanol grows, a new report indicates that climate change could reduce the productivity of the U.S. agricultural industry.

30-Second Summary

A new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has explored the ways in which climate change will affect the United States in the near future.

Among its various predictions, the report indicates that warmer temperatures could start negatively affecting the production of corn and other U.S. crops during the next several years.

Corn is the main crop in the United States, and a chief component of the country’s ethanol industry.

As temperatures grow warmer, the country’s corn output could decrease by up to 5 percent, according to the USDA report. Weed growth could spread, and drought severity in the West could get worse.

“The findings come at a time of turmoil for worldwide food supplies,” according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. Factors such as growing worldwide demand for staple food items, effects of natural disasters and ethanol production are all influencing the food market.

Because the USDA report looks just 25–50 years into the future instead of 100 years like other studies have done, the predictions for crop failures and other problems gives more immediacy to the consequences of climate change, said Jerry Hatfield of the National Soil Tilth Laboratory in Ames, Iowa.

The USDA report made no recommendations on how to address climate change and its influence on crop growth, but the information could help farmers consider whether they want to grow a more drought-resistant crop, Hatfield stated.

Headline Links: Reviewing the effects of climate change

Background: Alternative fuel mandate

Related Topics: Examining ethanol and the world food crisis

Reference: Climate change report


Most Recent Beyond The Headlines