Farmers in US Midwest start to see climate change impacts

Global Business

Diplomats from across the globe are scheduled too meet in Poland over the next two weeks to try to put global climate negotiations back on track.

The message already emerging from COP24 is that time is running out, and action is required now.

Many countries have already been severely impacted by climate change. Other regions have been more fortunate.

CGTN’s Dan Williams reports.

The U.S. Midwest has yet to fully experience the devastation climate change can cause. But weather patterns in the region appear to be changing.

A recent scientific report issued by 13 federal agencies laid out the devastating effects climate change will have on the economy, health and the environment.

For the Midwest, a key agricultural region, the report predicts an increase in crop failures, primarily because of extreme heat, drought and flooding.

A combine harvester in action harvesting soybeans

Photo from Dan Williams.

Jim Angel is the Illinois state climatologist and one of the report’s authors. “The key findings at least for the Midwest are the big impacts that we are seeing on agriculture already, and that we are going to see even more in the future. And those are big economic impacts. Obviously, any time you are messing with the food supply, not only of the U.S. but the world, that can have major impacts around the region.”

For Midwest farmers, the higher temperatures would likely add further stress to soil erosion, plant disease and an increase in pests.

A recently harvested field of corn

Photo from Dan Williams.

Lin Warfel has farmed in central Illinois for 56 years. Although he remains skeptical over the cause of climate change, he has noticed the effects.

“When it rains, it pours. So when we get a three or four-inch rain, we have flooding. And none of our crops like to be under water. They can stand a little bit but not for very long and then the yield drops or they even die.”

The report said improvements in technology and science have so far largely insulated farming from the effects of climate change. But Angel wonders how long that can last. “At some point, I think it is going to break down, and then I am very concerned. ‘Cause if you look at the food supplies of America and the world, we don’t carry over that much from one year to the next. So if we get in a drought year, the supplies are fairly tight. So if we have multiple bad years, that’s when it is really be a large impact, not only in the U.S. but on the world markets.”
There is still hope. Angel said making efforts to reduce greenhouse gases can still reduce the severity of the impact.

The question though is whether those efforts will be made.

Kari Fulton discusses how US farmers might be affected by climate change

CGTN’s Rachelle Akuffo spoke with environmental justice advocate Kari Fulton, founder at, about the impact of climate change on American agriculture.