Agriculture Impacts and Impacts on International Food Supplies and Prices

Saturday, 15 February 2014
Regency A (Hyatt Regency Chicago)
Jerry Hatfield , U.S. Department of Agriculture, Ames, IA
Warming in the mid-latitudes will have an impact on both plants and animals. There are two impacts of temperature which affect all biological systems. First, increasing temperature in plants causes more rapid plant development and more rapid senescence of the plant causing a smaller plant with less grain or fruit. Temperature increases also impact fruit production because the warmer winter temperatures may prevent trees from being exposed to sufficient chilling to enable flowering and fruit set.   Increasing the temperature also increases the atmospheric demand for water leading to an increase in water use rates by crops and when coupled with more variable precipitation can lead to increased amounts of water stress and reduced productivity. Each plant species has a unique range of temperature at which it grows and exposure to temperatures outside of that range will limit growth. Increases in temperature effects on both plants and animal are often noticed more in the nighttime (minimum) temperature than the daytime (maximum) temperature.  Exposure to warm nights disrupts the metabolic processes and creates stress levels affecting the physiological functions in the plant or animal. One of the critical developmental stages for crops is the pollination stage and occurrences of extreme temperature events can reduce pollen viability Exposure to temperatures outside of the normal range of animals causes metabolic disruption leading to decreased productivity of eggs, meat, or milk. Precipitation is the source of water for agriculture and variation in precipitation amounts directly impacts the amount available for use in agricultural systems.  With increasing variability in the climate there will be increasing variation and uncertainty in food production leading to increased variation in prices. To overcome the uncertainty in climate, adaptive management strategies for both crops and livestock will have to be implemented.