Climate Adaptation in the Agricultural Sector: Lessons from Vermont

This report from the Georgetown Climate Center describes climate-smart agricultural practices and efforts states can take to help farms prepare for climate change impacts. The report also includes a case study of how the State of Vermont supported adaptation in the agricultural sector after Hurricane Irene in 2011, which may be helpful to states and communities recovering from recent storms. The report was authored by Deborah Markowitz, former Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources.

The overview explains the basics of “climate-smart agriculture” and describes approaches that can increase the resilience of the agricultural sector and, in some cases, also reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The paper outlines what kinds of solutions and information is needed to support climate-smart agriculture, and how these solutions must be considered throughout the value chain. One of the key messages of the paper is that solutions will need to be multi-faceted given the diversity within the farming industry. However, if the right policies are in place, farms can be a source of resilience. Federal programs, including crop insurance, the Farm Bill, conservation programs, and disaster recovery programs play an important role in funding, encouraging, and shaping this resilience. The paper also specifically describes how state leadership can make a difference. 

The Vermont case study demonstrates ways the agricultural sector is working with state, local, and nongovernmental organizations to apply climate-smart farming techniques. Each example shows how strategic investments, changes in policies, and technical assistance can contribute to resilience.

Examples touch on how Vermont is handling flood risks through better management of floodplains and strategic land conservation, steps Vermont took to reduce the spread of invasive species after Hurricane Irene, new regulations and policies to reduce water pollution, efforts to promote renewable energy on farms, and policies that support the local food system of Vermont. 


Publication Date: November 2, 2017

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  • Case study
  • Policy analysis/recommendations

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