What’s bad for farmers is bad for all of us. And as the climate changes, many farmers are struggling to adapt.

Laura Lengnick and Bob Quinn
Lengnick and farmer Bob Quinn in Big Sandy, Montana. Photo: Courtesy of Climate Listening Project.

Laura Lengnick is a soil scientist and consultant who specializes in climate risk management.

Lengnick: “The most challenging effect all over the country is what I like to call ‘too much and not enough’ water. We’re getting very heavy rainfalls punctuated by fairly long, and relatively severe, droughts.”

Crop quantity and quality can suffer as a result: too little rain and plants dry up, but too much can make the roots rot.

Farmers are doing their best to prepare.

Lengnick: “For example, a farmer who maybe has never needed irrigation or drainage on their farm is now considering investing in both of those new technologies.”

But adapting is not easy. And when crops fail, the effects trickle down to the rest of us. For example, the ongoing California drought means more produce may have to be imported. And a longer journey can mean wasted energy, higher costs, and lower quality.

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So while only two percent of Americans are farmers, we may all experience the impact of climate change on our dinner plates.

Reporting credit: Justyna Bicz/ChavoBart Digital Media.

Sara Peach is the editor-in-chief of Yale Climate Connections. She is an environmental journalist whose work has appeared in National Geographic, Scientific American, Environmental Health News, Grist,...