Published August 2019 – Climate change is already having very real impacts on California’s agricultural productivity and the livelihoods of our farmers and ranchers. A growing body of research is pointing to significantly tougher challenges ahead for farmers, our rural communities and our food security, unless we do more to mitigate climate change and improve resilience to its impacts.
California agriculture is the most productive and diverse agricultural economy in the nation and the leading supplier of the country’s fruits, vegetables, nuts, and dairy products. Climate change may increase food costs, further exacerbating issues of inequitable food access in California. Additionally, the nutritional quality of food is expected to decline when grown in a climate higher in carbon dioxide. Issues of food security and nutrition affect all Californians, urban and rural alike.
In this report, we provide a science-based review of some of the most significant impacts of climate change on California agriculture and what is predicted in the coming decades. We also provide stories of California farmers and ranchers coping with climate impacts, some strategies they are using, and recommendations for needed resources and tools to keep California producers viable and thriving in the face of the sobering challenges ahead.