Getting hot on the farm

Climate change could harm agricultural output in coming decades

The increasing pace of climate change could overwhelm the nation’s agricultural and livestock industries in coming decades, a report finds.

A U.S. Department of Agriculture study noted that while crops and livestock have adapted to changing climate for the last 150 years, it may become too difficult and costly to adjust adequately as climate fluctuations become more intense, according to The Des Moines Register. Increases in temperatures and extreme swings in precipitation levels could result in significant losses in production—higher temperatures lead to faster crop maturation, shortening the growing season and overall yields.

Livestock will also be affected, as an increase in optimal body temperature could lead to reduced production of milk and eggs, and warmer weather will increase exposure to insects and disease.