In this State of the Union message, President Obama raised the issue of Climate Change and said America must take action to prepare for weather changes in the future. Is Indiana agriculture ready to adjust to the weather changes that may be coming? One expert says “Yes.”
On Thursday, EPA administrator Gina McCarthy will hold a press conference in Aspen, CO to draw attention to the economic impact of weather extremes. Extremes she says are coming as a result of climate change. Colders winter and hotter summers, the experts say, will wreak devastation on US food production, especially here in the Midwest.
But Greg Page, head of Cargill, one of the largest food companies in the world, says American farmers have the technology to adapt to climate change. “We already have much of what we need in place,” said Page. “We have the scientific base in place, and we have the University and Extension systems in place and focused on this issue.” He told HAT what we need to avoid is slowing down our efforts, “If weather extremes become more prevalent, we need to make sure our research is ready.” He said it is not about acquiring a new skill or technology, but about accelerating what we already have.
Speaking at the Governor’s Conference on Agriculture last week, Page said that, along with problems that climate change will bring, there are new opportunities for agriculture, “At Cargill, we have people growing us corn in hot dry regions of the world. We can bring that kind of production to the Midwest if needed.” He noted, if the weather changes the way some predict, farmers in Indiana will be able to grow crops year round and even grow new varieties, “It is not about inventing new technologies, but adapting and relocating current technologies to new areas if the weather changes.” In addition, he said areas in Northern Canada that have not been good for row crop production could bring millions of new acres into canola and other grain production.
Page said agriculture needs to approach climate change in a balanced and scientific manner, “The idea that all change is bad change is not a take away people should have.” He said there are plenty of reasons to believe that we can adapt to whatever change might be coming.
In addition, the EPA is currently proposing regulations that would significantly raise the cost of energy in Indiana. Governor Pence has vowed to fight that kind of reaction to climate change, “The State of Indiana is going to stay in the forefront of fighting for common sense regulatory policies that protect farmers and agribusiness.”