Tuesday, 28 March 2023

Climate Change Consortium for Specialty Crops report identifies challenges, makes recommendations

SACRAMENTO – As part of the ongoing effort to ensure that California is prepared for the impacts of climate change, the Climate Change Consortium for Specialty Crops has produced a report, “Climate Change Consortium for Specialty Crops: Impacts and Strategies for Resilience” – http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/environmentalstewardship/pdfs/ccc-report.pdf – which identifies recommendations to address the challenges posed by climate change to producers of specialty crops.

As a member of the Governor's Climate Action Team, the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) convened the consortium to prepare the report. Climate change is expected to have significant and widespread impacts on California's economy and environment.

“This is essential work as we prepare for a future that will require significantly greater food production while using fewer natural resources,” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. “I commend the consortium for its efforts to clearly identify the challenges we'll face and strategies to address them.”

The consortium, a diverse group of individuals involved in California specialty crop agriculture, addressed climate change impacts in the areas of temperature, water resources, pests, and pollination, with the understanding that growers will face changes in environmental averages, trends, variability, and extremes. Impacts to agriculture from changes in weather will be felt differently in different parts of California. Rainfall, humidity and wind are some other common weather variables.

There was a general consensus within the consortium that growers are already managing their lands in consideration of dynamic environmental variables.

However, for specialty crop agriculture in California to adapt and be prepared for the effects of climate change, growers will require technological innovation, scientific answers to fundamental climate change impact questions, investment in planning and preparedness, and agricultural support services.

“Although California specialty crop growers are exceptionally innovative, there are valuable lessons to learn by looking at climate patterns over time,” said Jocelyn Gretz, a consortium member and director of environmental sciences and resources at Rio Farms in King City. “This document provides growers, policy makers and researchers with a summary of already-observed climate impacts on agriculture and an outline of potential solutions.”

California is the nation's largest specialty crop producer. Funding for the report was provided by the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, which is funded by the USDA and administered by CDFA.

Specialty crops are defined as fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops including floriculture.

California is the United States' sole producer of several crops such as Clingstone peaches, olives, pistachios, walnuts, almonds and artichokes.

The state's unique environmental zones and Mediterranean climate allow for a diversity of crops to be produced throughout the year for local, national, and global distribution.

This report and the efforts of the Climate Change Consortium are an extension of Ag Vision, http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/agvision/ , a blueprint for sustainability developed by the California State Board of Food and Agriculture in 2010. One of Ag Vision's key strategies is to assure agricultural adaptation to climate change.

The Climate Change Consortium report is also part of a broader body of research about the impacts of climate change in California and how the state can prepare for them.

Other recent reports include:

CDFA is one of several state agencies involved in drafting an update to a statewide climate adaptation strategy.

The new Safeguarding California Plan – http://resources.ca.gov/climate_adaptation/regional_public_workshops/Request_for_Input.pdf – will address how California can protect against a variety of climate-related risks.

Public meetings are being conducted this week and next to get input from Californians on key issues and approaches.

A schedule of those meetings is available: http://resources.ca.gov/climate_adaptation/regional_public_workshops/schedule.html>; .

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