From the Ground Up: The State of the States on Climate Adaptation for Agriculture
This paper analyzes how state climate adaptation plans treat agriculture and food systems, and identifies challenges and best practices and lift-up innovative approaches for the future. To conduct the analysis, every state was catalouged with a climate adaptation plan that makes concrete recommendations for agricultural adaptation. A list of every agriculture-related policy proposal was created in each state plan and sorted those strategies into ten categories based on our best interpretation of their goals. Eight strategies identified by the USDA in the 2016 report “Adaptation Resources for Agriculture,” were pulled. Two additional categories we identified as important were added, covering financial support and technical assistance.
A few important trends stand out in state climate adaptation plans.
- Few states are considering ambitious changes to their agricultural systems, such as changing crop types to fit the altered climate or using new approaches to animal production.
- Locally focused adaptation strategies with less daunting scopes, such as those focused on soil and water quality, have gained traction.
- Strategies designed to support farmers with technical and financial support for climate adaptation are well-represented.
- Very little attention is given to biodiversity, how to “manage farms and fields as part of a larger landscape,” a potentially powerful tool in the face of climate change.
- Investing in agriculture-related infrastructure as part of climate adaptation is similarly under-represented.