Climate Change will be Stormy for Farmers

A couple of days ago the Colorado weather was perfect to be outside, planting my garden under sunny skies with temperatures in the mid-70’s. This morning, I’m headed out to shake the wet, heavy snow off tree limbs before they break.

For most people, weather serves as a point of conversation, or as a factor in shifting an outside barbecue into an inside dinner party.

For farmers and ranchers, weather conditions this time of year foreshadow the potential profit or loss for the entire year. While I am dealing with half a foot of spring snow, 100 miles to the southeast, the only storm clouds wheat farmers have seen in the past several months are dust clouds. In western Colorado, fruit growers are inspecting their trees this morning to assess the damage from the freezing temperatures overnight.

Only the unpredictability is predictable.

And, scientists tell us to brace for more unpredictability. Last week’s news about our shifting climate should serve as a real wake-up call for everyone. The causes of climate change are complex, but the chemically intensive agricultural practices of the past several decades are certainly a contributor.

Fortunately, a growing number of farmers are adopting practices that rely less on chemicals and more on soil stewardship. Your decision to select certified organic and other sustainably grown food is creating a strong incentive for more farmers to follow that path.

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