Report: Climate change is a challenge now for Michigan farmers

May 6, 2014

Climate change is making Michigan farmers more vulnerable to dramatic weather shifts, according to a new report.

The new National Climate Assessment concludes that the harms of global warming will become more and more disruptive across the nation throughout this century and beyond.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The U.S. Global Change Research Program released a report this morning claiming climate change is no longer a future threat but is a reality now.

The new National Climate Assessment concludes that the problems of global warming will become more disruptive across the nation throughout this century and beyond. The report emphasizes how warming and its all-too wild weather is changing daily lives, even using the phrase "climate disruption" as another way of referring to global warming.

Jerry Hatfield is the director of the USDA National Lab for Agriculture and Environment in Ames, Iowa. He’s one of the lead authors on the agriculture portion of the report.

Hatfield says climate change poses a challenge to Michigan farmers. He points to higher spring temperatures, later-season frosts and increased precipitation.

“I don’t see it as a doomsday thing,” says Hatfield. “I see it as some opportunities for us, but we’re going to have to bring these pieces together really to help agriculture.”

Hatfield says Michigan farmers can adapt to climate change by planting different crops and shifting planting dates.

He adds Michigan’s climate change challenges are less severe than those seen in the Deep South and the Western U.S.

The 840-page report says it's not too late to prevent the worst of climate change. The White House is highlighting the science and effects of warming as it tries to jump start often-stalled efforts to curb heat-trapping gases.