The 25x'25 Alliance, a group focused largely on securing renewable energy, said Tuesday that several factors will need to come together to maintain agricultural and forestry production as weather and climate patterns become increasingly unpredictable.
The equation to improve reaction to climate changes will include research, strong insurance programs, technology and dialogue between producers, policymakers and agricultural organizations.
"These are recommendations that mitigate risks posed by changes in our climate while strengthening production, cutting input costs and improving the quality of the land, even in the context of weather-related disasters like those experienced in 2011 and 2012," Work Group Chairman Fred Yoder said during a press call Tuesday.
The report detailing the recommendations was released Tuesday with the support of several farm groups, including the American Soybean Association and the American Farm Bureau. It is titled "Agriculture and Forestry in a Changing Climate: Adaptation Recommendations."
"This document offers producers, foresters and policy makers various pathways in the areas of research, production systems, risk management, decision tools and outreach for building a more resilient ag and forestry system," Yoder added.
25x'25 suggests that the impacts as a result of changing weather will vary by region, but stronger storms and higher temperatures may be characteristic of new patterns. Additionally, new weeds and pest threats will be of greater concern. In these situations, 25x'25 said productivity, profitability, stewardship and self-determination will surface as overlapping, continuing goals.
Producers will require support for hard decisions -- and resources for those decisions will come from research, the report said.
Governmental, academic and private research for more climate forecasting and scenarios, as well as the implementation of conservation practices designed to maintain the productive capacity of land should be a priority.
25x'25 supports maintaining a federal crop insurance program and relief programs for victims of natural disasters. In the report, they call on policy makers and private businesses to provide funding adaptation measures, including low-interest, revolving loans.
Technology will also be a factor in mitigating risk, and new tools such as smartphone apps may be a big piece of the puzzle. These apps will improve information gathering and dialogues, and serve as a supplement to producer-centered discussions that connect producers in areas experiencing changing conditions with those already accustomed to addressing similar challenges.
The report said there must also be ongoing dialogue between scientists, policymakers, and agricultural organizations, and that producers and trade associations must be involved in research decisions and implementation.
"Adaptation strategies come in many different forms, but typically fall into three major categories: actions to increase resistance to changes in climate in order to maintain existing practices; actions to improve resilience by investing in steps that preempt disasters and restore systems in the wake of them; and actions to transform operations," said Chuck Rice, Kansas State University Distinguished Professor and professor of soil microbiology in a press statement.
Rice noted the strategies in the report "are designed to reflect this range of activities."
Yoder said the release of the report is only a single step in a continuing process, calling on all stakeholders to offer feedback on the types of adaptation measures needed to enable producers to succeed in the context of a changing climate.
He said that through 2014, 25x'25 will be supporting project outreach partners such as the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Corn Growers Association, American Soybean Association and other producer groups by offering presentations, workshops, webinars and additional forums to generate dialogue improve understanding of coming challenges.
"The Adaptation Work Group believes that with forethought, leaders and the right priorities, our nation's agriculture and forestry systems cannot only meet future challenges, but thrive in the midst of them," Yoder said.
Click here to read the report.