Global Warming Likely to Hurt Wisconsin Agriculture

ag-scenic-farm

Agriculture has been a critical dimension of Wisconsin from early settlement and the logging era, through industrialization, and remains an important economic, social and cultural component of the Dairy State. Wisconsin ranks first nationally in cheese production, and second for milk and butter production. Yet Wisconsin is also second in milk cows, oats, carrots, and sweet corn used in processing. It remains the national leader in processed snap beans, cranberries, corn for silage, mink pelts and milk goats. It is also among the top five states for important agricultural commodities such as potatoes, maple syrup, mint for oil, and cucumbers for pickles.

Continue global warming is predicted to bring increases in both the frequency and the severity of droughts and floods, resulting in increased challenges for Wisconsin farmers and livestock operations. Warmer water temperatures are also likely to cause the habitat ranges of many fish species to shift and disruption of ecosystems already stressed by human activity. Overall, climate change in Wisconsin resulting from global warming will make it more difficult to grow crops, raise animals, and catch fish in the same ways and places as in the past.

Changes in the frequency and severity of droughts and floods could pose challenges for farmers and ranchers. Meanwhile, warmer water temperatures are likely to cause the habitat ranges of many fish species to shift, which could disrupt ecosystems. Overall, climate change could make it more difficult to grow crops, raise animals, and catch fish in the same ways and same places as we have done in the past.

Heat waves, which are projected to increase under climate change, could directly threaten livestock. A number of states have each reported losses of more than 5,000 animals from just one heat wave. Heat stress affects animals both directly and indirectly. Over time, heat stress can increase vulnerability to disease, reduce fertility, and reduce milk production.

Drought may threaten pasture and feed supplies. Drought reduces the amount of quality forage available to grazing livestock. Some areas could experience longer, more intense droughts, resulting from higher summer temperatures and reduced precipitation. For animals that rely on grain, changes in crop production due to drought could also become a problem.

Climate change may increase the prevalence of parasites and diseases that affect livestock.The earlier onset of spring and warmer winters could allow some parasites and pathogens to survive more easily. In areas with increased rainfall, moisture-reliant pathogens could thrive.

Increases in carbon dioxide (CO2) may increase the productivity of pastures, but may also decrease their quality. Increases in atmospheric CO2 can increase the productivity of plants on which livestock feed. However, studies indicate that the quality of some of the forage found in pasture lands decreases with higher CO2. As a result, livestock would need to eat more to get the same nutritional benefits.

The negative effects of climate change will be exacerbated by continuing declines in the acreage of Wisconsin farmland. Wisconsin lost more than 620,000 acres of farmland from 2007 to 2012, a 4% decrease according to the Census of Agriculture, which is conducted every five years by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Likely causes of these declines are urban sprawl development, enabled by federal, state and local highway expansions which replace vegetation and topsoil with heat-absorbing Portland cement or asphalt in order to facilitate continued growth in motor vehicle driving (more fossil fuel burning) and more employment and profits for the construction and bridge building industry.

Sources: U.S. EPA; U. S. Department of Agriculture; Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impact

About Mike Neuman

Identical twin; Long-time advocate of protection of our environment; Married; Father to three sons; Grandfather to one granddaughter; Born and raised in Wisconsin; Graduate of University of Wisconsin; post graduate degrees in agricultural economics and Water Resources Management fro UWMadison; Former School Crossing Guard for City of Madison; Bike to Work for 31 years with Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; Retired from DNR in 2007; Biked to school crossing guard site 2 X daily for 7 years retiring in 2019; in addition to being an advocate of safeguarding our environment, I am also an advocate for humane treatment of animal, children, and people in need of financial resource for humane living. I am presently a Volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, Madison, Wisconsin. I oppose all long (>500 miles) distance travel (via fossil fuel burning) for nonessential purposes and all ownership of more than one home. I am opposed to militarism in any form particularly for the purpose of monetary gain. I am a Strong believer in people everywhere having the right to speak their minds openly, without any fear of reprisal, regarding any concerns; especially against those in authority who are not acting for the public good?in a timely fashion and in all countries of the world not just the U S.. My identical twin, Pat, died in June 2009. He was fired from his job with the National Weather Service despite having a long and successful career as a flood forecaster with the Kansas City National Weather Service. He took a new position in the Midwest Regional Office in Minneapolis. Unfortunately, Pat’s work for the NWS went sour after he began to see the evidence for concern about rising global temperatures shortly after relocating to Minneapolis, and how they appeared to effect of flooding on the Red River that flows out of Canada before entering the U.S. in North Dakota. . Pat and I conversed on a regular basis with other scientists on the Yahoo Group named “Climate Concern “ and by personal email. The NWS denied his recommendation to give his public presentation o n his research at the “Minneapolis Mall of America” in February 2000, which deeply affected h,im. I will h He strongly believed the information ought be shared with the public to which I concurred. That was the beginning of the vendetta against my brother, Patrick J. Neuman, for speaking strongly of the obligations the federal government was responsible for accurately informing the citizenry. A way great similar response to my raising the issue of too many greenhouse gases being emitted by drivers of vehicles on Wisconsin highway system, my immediate supervisors directed: “that neither global warming, climate change nor the long term impacts upon the natural resources of Wisconsin from expansion of the state highway system were to be any part of my job requirements, and that I must not communicate, nor in a memorandum to all the bureau, shall any person who works in the same bureau I do communicate with me, neither verbally on the phone, by email.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: