Thursday, December 17, 2009 by Kathy Means
Outlook 2010: Climate Change
The House passed its climate change bill in 2009. The Senate will continue considering the topic in 2010, though the ultimate prospects are not clear. In addition to the larger policy questions affecting this bill, there will be considerable time spent on its impacts on agriculture, including fruit and vegetable production and distribution. Our industry has some unique perspectives as our perishable crops require special handling, including refrigeration.
On the regulatory side, USDA is joining ag offices from 20 other countries in the new Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases (GRA), an international research collaborative to combat climate change. The GRA will focus on research, development, and extension of technologies and practices to grow more food (and more climate-resilient food systems) without growing greenhouse gas emissions. Using partnerships among researchers in participating countries, the alliance expects to develop knowledge and technologies farmers and other land and resource managers around the globe can use. Those outputs may include cost-effective and accurate ways of measuring greenhouse gas emissions and carbon stored in soil; new farming practices that reduce emissions and increase carbon storage in farmland in different countries; and farming methods that sustain yields while helping to mitigate climate change. USDA will expand its research to contribute to these efforts.
In addition, USDA, in cooperation with the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research and the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), released The Effects of Climate Change on U.S. Ecosystems today at the climate talks in Copenhagen, Denmark. Specifically on fruits and vegetables, the report states: “Marketable yield of horticultural crops (such as tomato, onion, and fruit) are more vulnerable to climate change than grains and oilseed crops due to the high sensitivity of their quality and appearance to climate factors.”
We’ll keep you posted on developments on this important topic.