Many farmers, foresters, and ranchers throughout the United States are adjusting their operations to reduce the risks associated with increasingly variable and unpredictable weather. In addition, producers are facing unprecedented economic, social, and environmental pressures which require that they balance for multiple outcomes. These challenges include feeding, clothing, housing, and fueling a rapidly growing world, making decisions in volatile local and global markets, and managing to continually renew and protect soil, water, and air resources. But farmers, foresters, and ranchers are not solely at the mercy of these trends. Rather, there are many options available to mitigate risks while strengthening production, cutting input costs, and improving the quality of the land — even in the context of weather-related disasters like those experienced in 2011 and 2012.
In April 2013, the 25x’25 Alliance’s Adaptation Work Group released a report entitled Agriculture and Forestry in a Changing Climate: Adaptation Recommendations [PDF]. The report offers various pathways in the areas of research, production systems, risk management, decision tools, and outreach for building a more resilient agriculture and forestry system. The recommendations of the Adaptation Work Group, a collaboration involving American Farmland Trust and other leaders from the agriculture, forestry, business, academic, conservation, and government sectors, were shaped by the four overlapping goals of profitability, productivity, stewardship, and self-determination. The report, however, is not intended to serve as a definitive set of adaptation recommendations. Instead, it is offered as the beginning of a national dialogue on the steps needed to prepare agriculture and forestry for the road ahead.