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Positives of global warming..................


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#31    Br Cornelius

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Posted 05 October 2012 - 03:13 PM

View PostDoug1o29, on 05 October 2012 - 12:57 PM, said:

In the US we already have the legal and governmental machinery in place to deal with the issue of changes in cropping.  It is a happy accident of our own history and nothing we deliberately set out to do.  It's done through the crop insurance program:  the government simply adjusts the price of insurance for different crops in different locations.  Nothing more than an actuarial process.  In risky areas, the cost of insuring a given crop goes up; in safer areas it goes down.  The market does the rest.
Doug

This will not address the fundamental issue that most farmers are highly specialised in how they farm their own niche. They are slow to adapt and slow to learn new  cropping systems. The sort of changes we can expect will leave most of them for dead. Adaption is a nice idea but very difficult in practice.

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#32    Doug1o29

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Posted 05 October 2012 - 06:34 PM

View PostBr Cornelius, on 05 October 2012 - 03:13 PM, said:

This will not address the fundamental issue that most farmers are highly specialised in how they farm their own niche. They are slow to adapt and slow to learn new  cropping systems. The sort of changes we can expect will leave most of them for dead. Adaption is a nice idea but very difficult in practice.

Br Cornelius
I grant that we might not be able to implement the program fast enough to head off serious problems should we get a four or five year shift in climate, something entirely possible during the early stages when climate is expected to oscillate between the old and new regimes.

The strategy is to offer price supplements to growers of several different kinds of crops (Listen to the conservatives whine about "Socialism," while talking with their mouths full.).  In a "normal" year production would be about twice what is needed and the surplus could be sold abroad.  If one type of crop failed, the crop-insurance program would cover the loss, increasing premiums for that type of crop the next year.  Gradually, increasing premiums would force farmers to adapt or go out of business.  This strategy is a food security program (The name of the "Farm Bill" is the Food Security Act; it's not about helping farmers - it's about guaranteeing the rest of us enough to eat.).  It doesn't necessarily help the farmer, especially the one who can't adapt.

The US government has other tools it can employ as well.  The Secretary of Agriculture has the authority to void CRP agreements unilaterally.  That would make CRP land available immediately (as happened in last summer's drought) and provide an incentive to make the changes ASAP - if your CRP rent money won't be coming in next year, you'd better do something right now.  The Congress could cancel the alcohol fuels program which would lower demand for grain, especially corn (I'd like to see that done, anyway, but continuing the cellulose alcohol program.).  The government can adjust crop subsidies, offering more for new crops in new areas (They did that with sunflowers and bird seed which shifted wheat production northward so that Kansas could grow more millet and sunflowers.).  If the new crops require different machinery, or the farming infrastructure is not present in the area, that might be a problem.  And nobody expects a transition not to have some bumps, but I think this one can be made, by-and-large without serious food shortages in the US.  I don't know about elsewhere; you might have some real problems if you're a net food importer.

An example of a transition that has already happened:  southwest Colorado (San Miguel County near Groundhog Reservoir) back in the 1950s was a farming area.  But the land was marginal and profits low.  Uncle Sam offered cash for land put into the Soil Bank (a now-defunct program).  To qualify, you had to plant grass and keep the land fallow (In case there was a sudden need to increase production.).  A lot of farmers did this.  The result was a disaster for equipment merchants, grain elevator operators and others who depended on farmers.  They packed up and left.  Groundhog became a ghost town.  The economy shifted to ranching.  When the Soil Bank contracts ended, there was no farming infrastructure - the economy has remained a ranching economy.  If you wanted to start farming up there right now, you couldn't because there are no mechanics to fix your equipment, you would have to pay extra to get equipment up there and your crops would have to be trucked over a hundred miles to get to market (Same thing happened to cotton producers in the Tiak area in southeastern McCurtain County in Oklahoma.).

Having worked with farmers for nearly 30 years, I think they're resourceful enough to adapt and quickly; albeit, there will be some growing pains along the way and a few will go out of business because they can't or won't adapt.
Doug

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