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.

Drought continues in the High Plains, while Midwestern farmers see rainfall extremes

In South Dakota, one of the nation’s top wheat producing states, nearly 75 percent of the spring crop is in poor to very poor condition, according to the report. In North Dakota, the nation’s second largest wheat producer, 40 percent of the spring wheat crop is in poor to very poor condition.