SACRAMENTO — A state panel proposes research, outreach and technical help for specialty crop growers to cope with future impacts on their operations from climate change.
The Climate Change Consortium for Specialty Crops has issued a series of recommendations to address climate change impacts on temperature, water resources, pests and pollination.
The panel praised growers for “already managing their lands in consideration of dynamic environmental variables” but added they’ll need technological innovations and support services to adapt.
“The intent was to make it a catalyst for discussion industry-wide” about climate change, said Steve Lyle, spokesman for the California Department of Food and Agriculture.
The CDFA convened the consortium, a diverse group of people involved in industries related to specialty crops such as fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops. California is the nation’s sole producer of several crops such as Clingstone peaches, olives, pistachios, walnuts, almonds and artichokes, the state explains.
The report suggests research in such areas as honey bee health, crop breeding, the impacts of saltwater intrusion, pest forecasts and crop fertility. Outreach efforts would include recognition for innovative growers, habitat restoration efforts, pest and flood risk information and an online research needs forum, according to the report.
The work is “essential” as the future will likely require significantly greater food production while using fewer natural resources, CDFA Secretary Karen Ross said in a statement.
The report is an extension of Ag Vision, a 2010 sustainability document developed by the state Board of Food and Agriculture. The board was set to discuss the latest report at its Oct. 8 meeting, Lyle said.
The report comes as a recent University of California-Davis survey found that farmers feel more threatened by climate policy than they do by climate change. The study, published in the journal Global Environmental Change, found that the greatest climate risk farmers believe they face isn’t drought or temperature changes but government regulations.
The survey included 162 growers in Yolo County, which has a diverse mix of crops and livestock systems and where 80 percent of land is devoted to agriculture. While wary of regulations, however, growers did indicate a willingness to participate in government incentive programs that would help them adapt.
Lyle said he was unfamiliar with the UC-Davis study and unaware of specific policy proposals that would come out of the consortium’s report.
Climate Change Consortium for Specialty Crops Final Report: http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/egov/Press_Releases/Press_Release.asp?PRnum=13-032
UC-Davis survey on climate policy: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959378013001404