One of the most important sectors of the economy, U.S. agriculture depends heavily on climate. Farms and ranches are also the largest group of owners and managers of land that impacts ecosystem services, such as greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation, water quality and quantity regulation, and wildlife habitat and biodiversity conservation. In addition, agriculture is playing an increasingly important role in the energy sector through biofuels production. Consequently, the impacts of climate change on agriculture, and agriculture’s ability to adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change, are critical issues for agricultural households as well as the general public and public policy decisionmakers.
This policy brief summarizes the findings of a longer report on the potential impacts of climate change and the potential for the U.S. agricultural sector to adapt to climate change (Antle 2009), and then addresses the policy implications of these findings.