Resilient Roots: Understanding Climate Challenges and Opportunities for Agriculture
Agriculture plays a prominent role in Southern California, holding significant economic, cultural, ecological, and historic value. However, Southern California’s agricultural producers face many challenges to delivering food to your plate. Some of these challenges are likely to be exacerbated by climate change including changes in temperature and precipitation variability. The frequency and intensity of extreme heat events and variable precipitation will play a large role in the future of our local agriculture—having impacts on the type of crops we can grow and how successful their yields are. Extreme events can impact agricultural production through increasing costs for more limited water supplies and unpredictability in more extreme weather events can increase pests and weeds, impact pollinators, and even threaten the health and safety of farm workers. All of these impacts together can have corresponding economic and financial hardship for producers.
In an effort to better understand and prepare for the challenges faced by regional producers, the 2020 Climate Change Consortium for Speciality Crops of Southern California was convened in partnership with the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) and the Climate Science Alliance. The vision of the 2020 Consortium builds off of CDFA's previous convenings in 2012, but this time focused on identifying climate impacts and strategies for resilience specific to Southern California specialty producers. These convenings and outreach efforts have provided a unique opportunity to hear directly from producers, researchers, and technical assistance advisors to identify the opportunities, recommendations, and actions for addressing our region's unique needs for building climate resilience.
The 2020 Climate Change Impacts for Specialty Crops report can be accessed at climatesciencealliance.org/2020-consortium along with several other producer and consumer resources that focus on climate impacts on the food system and opportunities to be a part of the solution. The information from this report will be utilized to inform CDFA’s current and future programming and funding opportunities.
Farmers play an important role in our region's climate story and are at the heart of building resilience for our food system and more broadly in our communities. Our agricultural community can help our region both mitigate climate change by sequestering carbon and building healthy soils, while also helping us adapt and thrive as we experience and adjust to climate change impacts now and in the future. There is still a lot of work ahead, however, our producers have always been experts at adapting to changing daily conditions and weather variability and can help lead us through changes to come. This report and the Climate Science Alliance’s Resilient Roots Initiative (climatesciencealliance.org/resilient-roots) help tell the story of how our region’s producers are pushing forward with bold and creative strategies to address climate change impacts and take advantage of new opportunities that benefit people and the planet.
Dr. Amber Pairis and Alexandria Warneke, Climate Science Alliance • www.climatesciencealliance.org
The Climate Science Alliance is a boundary spanning network of leaders, scientists, managers, and community members focused on sharing ecosystem-based resiliency approaches to safeguard our communities and natural resources from the impacts of a changing climate. We do this through leading activities and creating partnerships that increase awareness of climate change impacts, promote solutions, and facilitate actions. For the Resilient Roots project, the Climate Science Alliance team works collaboratively with various partners in the region to elevate the role of local agriculture as part of our region’s climate solution and taking actions to test strategies and educate youth and the public on our local food system.