Farmers and Ranchers are on the Front Lines of Climate Change

My favorite part of my job at the Center for Rural Affairs is talking to rural people about issues that impact their lives. Sometimes these issues are less controversial, like encouraging young people and minorities to get started in farming, or providing assistance to disabled veterans who are rebuilding their lives in small towns with second careers in agriculture.

These are the easy conversations, ones that make you feel warm and fuzzy and inspire me to keep going as an organizer.

Lately, we’ve been having not-so-easy conversations with our supporters on climate change. It’s controversial; a behemoth problem that sometimes makes me feel powerless and wonder what I can possibly do to change things.

Conversations with Center for Rural Affairs supporters change that perception. You remind me of the power in numbers. You recognize the dual role rural people play as advocates for better public policy on climate and practitioners of innovative on-the-ground agricultural practices that build soil, use water more efficiently, and mitigate the effects of climate change.

We recognize climate change as a threat to our rural way of life and support measures to curb the effects. A 2013 study on farmer and rancher perceptions on climate change reported that farmers and ranchers are likely to diversify crops, buy crop insurance, modify lease arrangements, and even exit farming in response to extreme weather caused by climate change.

Our small towns can’t afford to lose farmers and ranchers who throw in the towel due to impossible-to-recover-from weather events. Farmers and ranchers are on the front lines of climate change, and they are fighting back!