The executive director of the Lyons-based Center for Rural Affairs testified about climate change at the federal Environmental Protection Agency hearing in Denver, part of a series of hearings being held across the country.
Brian Depew says climate change needs to be addressed sooner, not later, or it will be costly for agriculture.
“If you look in our region, it’s projected there will be yield declines of 20% by mid-century if we do nothing about climate chance,” Depew says, “and yield declines of up to 50% by the end of the century and those are really steep costs for the Midwest and Great Plains.”
Depew says farmers and ranchers can benefit from taking steps to address climate change with their practices and land stewardship.
“We actually think there are a lot of opportunities for farmers to respond to climate change both through soil carbon sequestration and also by participating in the new and clean energy economy, through wind production, solar production and biofuels,” he says.
Depew says most producers are good environmentalists and are concerned about possible impacts from climate change.
“There’s still a real sense of stewardship in rural America,” he says. “The most recent rural poll in Nebraska takes attitudes of rural Nebraskans across the state and showed a majority of rural Nebraskans care about climate change, they believe it’s happening and they think we ought to do something about it.”
Depew says the EPA’s proposed carbon rule is focused on power plants and he says agriculture has an opportunity to be a solution to that problem — with wind energy.
By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton