Climate change triggers rare crop diseases in Missouri

This story was originally published by the Missouri Information Corps. New crop diseases pervading Missouri have been linked to climate change, and they’re directly impacting crop production. Climate change has already made Missouri a little more hot and humid, but has also caused some diseases for crops like corn and soybeans to become more prevalent. If not treated properly, farmers could see a significant loss in crop yields. However, there are ways Missourians can both fight off these crop diseases and combat climate change. 

Kaitlyn Bissonnette, a plant pathologist for MU Extension, said that she has seen climate change impact crop production by changes in disease varieties and prevalence in Missouri.

Climate change worsens flooding devastation across the Midwest

This story was originally published by the Missouri Information Corps. Loaded up with camera gear and permission from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to get up close, John Moon III made his way to Harry S. Truman Reservoir in Warsaw, Mo. A contracted stormtracker for KSN TV, Moon stood on the side of gushing flood waters during the flooding in 2019. The water being 30-40 feet above a normal pool, Moon struggled to shield his equipment from the spray of the water. 

“The spray itself [from the floodgates] made me feel like I was in a rainstorm,” Moon said. Every Missourian remembers the powerful rain and flooding in 2019 — events that caused widespread destruction and financial loss across the state.

Without an official statewide climate plan, Missourians must look elsewhere for direction

This story was originally published by the Missouri Information Corps. A staple of industry and identity in the state — agriculture has a stake in Missouri's economy and people's livelihoods. 

But Missouri’s agriculture industry will face the harsh realities of the climate emergency if action isn’t taken. The Fourth National Climate Assessment by the U.S. Global Change Research Program states that in the Midwest, climate change will reduce agricultural productivity in the next 30 years due to increased precipitation and extreme temperatures. That is, unless there are major technological advances. 

Not only will more rain cause less flexibility for spring planting and worsen soil erosion, but higher overall temperatures will also reduce yields for staple crops in Missouri like corn and soybeans. 

Although some states have taken initiative to combat climate change, Missouri is one of 30 that has not created a statewide plan to prepare for potential climatic changes. And though Missouri has an $88 billion agricultural industry, the Missouri Department of Agriculture (MDA) does not have a climate adaptation plan for farmers. 

In a written statement, MDA Communications Director Sami Jo Freeman recognized the department's lack of a climate change adaptation program.

Agriculture is one of the biggest contributors to climate change. But it can also be a part of the solution.

The global food production system, which
includes agriculture, accounts for more than a third of manmade greenhouse
gases, according to an August report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel
on Climate Change.

And while past focus has been on industries
such as fossil fuels and transportation, new attention is being put on
agriculture’s role in the climate change
solution. On September 18, a coalition representing 10,000 farmers and ranchers
delivered a letter to congress supporting the Green New Deal, a congressional resolution to
transition the United States to 100 percent clean energy by 2030.

Farming, more than any other industry, might be the best hope for curbing climate change.