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Movement Grows for More Federal Action on Climate Change

Some scientists predict that the Midwest will be nearly 10 degrees warmer by the middle or end of this century, a shift that could have devastating impacts on farmers. (Adobe Stock)
Some scientists predict that the Midwest will be nearly 10 degrees warmer by the middle or end of this century, a shift that could have devastating impacts on farmers. (Adobe Stock)
February 12, 2020

EAST TROY, Wis. -- Several farm organizations have launched a grassroots movement in hopes of seeing federal action on climate change -- and they're urging Wisconsin farmers to take part.

Member groups of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition are circulating an online letter in English and Spanish for farmers to sign. In Wisconsin, the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute is getting the word out.

Margaret Krome, the institute's program director for public policy, said there's no specific proposal for which they're pushing with this effort; they just want to see action.

"This letter doesn't articulate a slate of specifics," she said, adding that it's not, " 'This is what we want, or this ...' It's, at first, a statement: 'This matters, Please understand that it matters.' "

Despite the broader message in the letter, Krome said the industry has plenty of suggestions for adopting policies that would both address climate change and assist farmers. Those include expanding existing conservation programs and providing more funding to help farmers be resilient in the face of these changes.

In Wisconsin, Krome said it's more than just the scope of the heavy rains or fears of drought that have farmers concerned. It's the overall increase in unpredictable weather.

"You don't know if you're going to get extreme weather of whatever kind, at whatever time of the year," she said. "It's very hard to organize and make capital investments."

She said farmers and other rural Iowans conveyed to presidential hopefuls during the caucuses that the effects of climate change are becoming a key concern. Several Democratic candidates took notice by shifting their campaign messages in the state about how they plan to address the issue.

The letter is online at michaelfields.org.

Disclosure: Michael Fields Agricultural Institute contributes to our fund for reporting on Hunger/Food/Nutrition, Rural/Farming, Sustainable Agriculture. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Mike Moen, Public News Service - WI