The Southern Plains region contributes significantly to the Nation’s wheat and beef production. Winter wheat is the principal annual crop, with much of it serving dual-use as a cool-season annual forage in addition to grain production. Cattle are raised on extensive pasture and rangelands across the region.
Agricultural production and farm income in the Southern Plains are sensitive to weather variability. For example, the severe 2010/2011 drought resulted in the loss of billions of dollars in the agriculture sector. Agricultural losses were estimated to exceed $1.7 billion in Oklahoma and $5.2 billion in Texas, with more than half the Texas losses attributed to livestock and hay enterprises. Examples of climate and weather-related events in this region include: dought, temperature changes, and pests and diseases. This report assesses the region's vulnerability to climate change and offers preliminary adaptation and mitigation strategies for farmers, ranchers, and forest land owners.