This week, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) confirmed something many of us already suspected: Climate change is going to have a negative impact on the cost and availability of our food.
A summary of the department's most recent report titled "Climate Change and Agricultural Risk Management Into the 21st Century" determined that "weather averages and extremes [will] change over the coming decades," and that as a result, "climate change would lower domestic production of corn, soybeans, and wheat." As you probably already know, when there's less food to go around, we're all going to have to pay more for it. Which sucks. A lot.
Yet somehow, it only seems to get worse. See, for about a decade now, the federal government has spent $12 billion each year on USDA programs that are meant to help out farmers and the private companies that insure them. And while $12 billion is definitely not pocket change, it's still not going to be enough to take care of the hot mess that is climate change.
Why? Because in the world of agricultural insurance, climate change and lower crop yields is risky business. And when things are risky, insurance companies raise their premiums. Given that USDA initiatives like the Federal Crop Insurance Program (FCIP) help to subsidize those premiums, a larger budget is high key necessary to help out those insurance companies, who can then help out the farmers, the retailers, and YOU, the consumer.
But here's the dilemma. Over the past three years, it doesn't look like the Trump administration has been willing to deal out the cash. In fact, President Trump has repeatedly proposed significant budget cuts to the USDA, and even wanted a 15 percent cut in 2020. Why? Because these subsidies are apparently "overly generous" to farmers.
Um, IDK about you, but messing with the people who produce our food does not seem like the best idea. Thankfully, Congress seemed to agree and rejected the proposal earlier this month.
That said, throwing more money at ANY problem is unsustainable. Here's the reality: Climate change is here, she's whack, and the only way that we can truly stop her is by taking care of the planet. The Natural Resources Defense Council has suggested that when it comes to farming, our best bet is to make reforms to FCIP that will actually encourage our farmers to restore the health of our soil and take care of Mother Earth. Now that sounds like a plan!
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