California farmers and ranchers are on the front lines of climate change.
California is home to the largest and most diverse agricultural industry in the country. On over 76,000 farms and ranches, California agriculture is the leading producer of the country’s vegetables, fruits, nuts and dairy products. Dependent on the weather and water availability, the state has much to lose if the worst impacts of climate change on agriculture are not avoided.
A recent University of California assessment found that by the end of the century rising temperatures and related reduced winter chill hours will significantly impact key crops. By 2050, yields are projected to decline by 40 percent for avocados and 20 percent for almonds, table grapes, oranges and walnuts. Central Valley land acreage suitable for walnut, apricot, peach and nectarine will be cut by half, while acreage suitable for pecan, quince and chestnut will be cut by 22 percent. In the coming years, the increase in variable precipitation—from drought to floods—puts our agricultural industry at great risk.
Paving over some of the world’s most productive farmland also threatens the long-term viability of our agricultural sector. From 1984 to 2010, California lost one million acres of agricultural land. We are on track to lose another 1 million acres by 2030. This has significant implications not only for food production, but also for the state’s GHG emissions profile.
But agriculture can be part of the climate solution. California farmers and ranchers are the nation’s leading producers of on-farm renewable energy. And they are among the first in the country to embrace Climate Smart Agriculture, turning farms into carbon sinks and reducing potent GHG emissions.
CalCAN advocates for the State of California to invest in farmers and ranchers to unleash powerful, unique climate solutions.