USDA: Climate Change and Agriculture in the United States: Effects and Adaptation, Technical Bulletin 1935

From the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), this Technical Bulletin presents an overview of current climate change impacts on U.S. agriculture, assesses the the potential consequences of climate change over the next 25 to 100 years, and offers comprehensive climate change adaptation processes and strategies.  

Specifically, the impacts and risks of climate change, climate variability, and adaptation options for managed and unmanaged agricultural ecosystems are discussed. The report details the aggregate effects of climate change on specific cropping systems, livestock production, soils, and water and ecosystem services, including water resources for agriculture. Adaptation measures are identified for each of the focal climate impacts. 

Climate change effects on the economics of U.S agriculture are considered also, along with the economic means of adaptation at a federal and regional level. 

Chapter 7 entitled Adapting to Climate Change, provides detailed information on the adaptive capacity of agriculture in the U.S. The ecological, economic and social limitations that complicate adaptation efforts are reviewed, as well as the opportunities for enhancing adaptation through relevant national climate change adaptation policies.

Table 7.2. A Typology of Climate Change Adaptation Strategies for Agriculture - presents examples of climate change adaptation strategies to key biophysical and social drivers of adaptation.

The USDA recommends adopting the resistance-resilience-transformation framework that is applied to climate risk management in U.S. national forests defines adaption options in the National Fish, Wildlife, and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy for use in an ecosystem-based approach to agricultural adaptation. 

Potential adjustments in agricultural management practices to build climate resilience are described - such as the use of multiple cultivars within monocultures and diversifying crop rotations to manage pest populations, integrating livestock with crop production systems to manage resource cycles, building soil quality to manage water cycles, and other practices typically associated with sustainable agriculture. The USDA suggests that such actions may increase the capacity of the agricultural system to self-organize in response to climate change effects, and avoid loss of productivity with minimal reactive management intervention. 

The report concludes with research needs for adaptation in the agriculture sector. The research needs identified address specific actions that would serve to improve understanding and management of the exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity of U.S. agriculture to climate change. 

The 2013 USDA report, Climate Change and U.S. Agriculture: An Assessment of Effects and Adaptation Responses, is a summary of this technical bulletin. This summary reviews the existing vulnerabilities of U.S agriculture to climate change and explores adaptive actions that may reduce those vulnerabilities.


Publication Date: 2012

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