Climate Change in Rural Agricultural Areas

Realized and Potential Challenges:

Agricultural producers are increasingly dealing with the effects of extreme weather, flooding, and drought throughout Missouri. These environmental challenges are exacerbated by low commodity prices, trade barriers, and a general lack of resources in rural communities. In Spring 2020, the global SARS-CoV-2 pandemic will add additional stress to an already vulnerable food system and present unique challenges to rural communities that struggle to meet local healthcare needs. While climate-smart agricultural practices may increase resilience of rural agricultural communities in Missouri, to date, they are not widely adopted in crop and livestock production.

Ongoing Adaptation and Mitigation Efforts:

Many rural workers are associated with food production in some capacity, thus, creating more adaptable and resilient agricultural systems may help rural Missouri communities deal with the impacts of climate change. The Missouri Department of Agriculture, Department of Conservation, and Department of Natural Resources have state-level conservation assistance programs (e.g., Agricultural Stewardship Assurance Program) and provide support for farmers who are utilizing federal conservation assistance as well (e.g., Conservation Reserve Program).

While the scientific community is beginning to understand the benefits of conservation agriculture, regenerative agriculture, and climate-smart agricultural practices on adapting to and mitigating climate change, adoption rates among farmers remains low. Partnerships among commodity groups, farmers, government agencies, and researchers to discuss innovative on-farm and food chain solutions may help to increase adoption. For instance, in 2018, the NGO Solutions for the Land held a listening session to explore a path for agricultural resiliency in Missouri. They identified three climate-smart agriculture pillars (Adaptation and Resiliency, Productivity, and GHG Reduction) and corresponding solution pathways and tactics. These findings offer a foundation upon which our efforts can build.