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Climate change is the number one concern in today’s food industry, especially agriculture. It has completely reshaped the ecosystem in more ways than one. The massive heat waves, floods, droughts, and gas emissions have resulted in billion-dollar losses.
To even have the slightest chance to adapt to the constant changes, we will need all the information we can get. That’s why we compiled some practical knowledge of all the challenges that lie ahead. Here is a list of some of the biggest impacts of climate change on the agroindustry sector.
1. Heavy Rain
Countries all around the world report exceptionally heavy rainfall, even in summer. Some countries register over 25 inches of rain in one week, in a study published by the University of Florida. With heavy rain comes a high risk of flooding, which is a serious issue for farmers.
The rise in sea levels is the reason for the constant rainfall. According to the National Climate Assessment, this will pose a more serious threat to agriculture in the near future. The coastal and farming regions will have a hard time producing favorable products.
The rain can create salinity of soils, and that will stress the crops. Such drastic changes can decrease transpiration, photosynthesis, and respiration – key factors in creating top-quality crops.
2. Changes in Livestock Health
People in the U.S. eat over 36 million metric tons of meat every year. That’s more than $100 billion annually. Global warming and climate change can affect livestock indirectly and directly. Here are the many ways the changes in climate can impact these animals.
- Bacteria exposure – Heat creates the ideal environment for bacteria and parasites to thrive. This in itself, is a huge problem for the agroindustry. The invading pathogens survive a lot easier in this new environment. So, the animals become vulnerable to disease.
- Change in livestock treatment – With the high risk of bacteria, veterinarians will need to implement other tactics to treat the animals. This may increase the chance of implementing pesticides. This could affect the quality of the products.
- Poor livestock feed – Carbon dioxide emissions take a toll on animal feed. They decrease the crop quality, which, in turn, affects the farm and forage. With higher carbon dioxide emissions, the more difficult it will get to produce highly nutritional products.
- Drought – The increased heat waves can be a serious problem for animals. The high temperatures can decrease their fertility, milk production, and expose them to heat stress. With such high temperatures, it will be very hard to get good quality forage. The adaptation of irrigation techniques can help. But in developing regions, the poor access for such techniques could pose a problem.
3. Poor Food Distribution, Quality & Access
Crops in the U.S. are an essential food supply. American farms provide almost 25% of grains all around the world. Based on EPA science reports, the greenhouse effect can have a massive impact on the agroindustry on both a national and global scale.
It can decrease access to fresh produce, disrupt food availability, and reduce the quality of the crops. Carbon dioxide, temperature, and weather changes can have a sizeable impact on crop yields.
When the weather goes through an extreme change, it affects the crop reproduction and growth cycle. The high heat harms the crops, water supply affects the nutrients in the soil, and creates a perfect environment for fungi to thrive. This reduces agricultural productivity and food quality.
Also, when the extreme weather changes become too frequent, it becomes difficult to deliver the food on time. The products spoil too quickly or are exposed to contamination.
4. Land Degradation
Climate change increases the risk of land degradation. The high temperatures turn the agricultural and fertile land into a desert. When you pair that with human pollution, it becomes a serious problem.
Anthropogenic activities, such as burning fossil fuels and manufacturing fertilizers, have led to a massive surge in soil pollution all over the globe. The Agro-industry uses green technology called phytoremediation that removes all the pollutants.
But, these anthropogenic activities will lead to loss of species diversity and conditions, which will leave the soils devoid of nutrients. In the future, these effects could impact farming productivity. When you pair that with emissions of carbon dioxide, it’s easy to see that there will be economic consequences.
5. Drastic Shifts in Plant Growth
Climate change will create plenty of variables in plant growth. The 7% reduction in regular freezing days will contribute to growth. While the regions with poor water access and drastic changes in soil nutrients will make the area a tough place to cultivate plants.
Experts believe, some plants will need more time to mature, while others will grow very quickly. The increased humidity and dryness will invite more pathogens, which will expose the plants to bacteria.
With the destruction of forests, the natural habitat is expected to change.
Many plant species won’t be able to survive, while some will thrive. The plant growth, however, will depend on the region. Northern countries like Canada or Russia will gain access to more growing days. But, the tropical areas will lose over 200 growing days annually.
In other words, over 3 billion people will lose a third of their days for proper crop development. Most of these people live in poor regions.
Anything that can create a climate disturbance can affect the agroindustry, on both domestic and international levels. Droughts create a shortage of rain, flooding can barge transport, and extreme weather changes can reduce the farmers’ ability to produce food. This will leave a major impact on the prices of farmed goods.
The goal should be to limit carbon dioxide emissions as much as possible and tackle the growing problem of climate change. Although this is an issue on a much wider scale, it is possible to reduce its impact on the food market.