How Climate Change Affects Local Farmers

How Climate Change Affects Local Farmers

LANSING - Temperatures for the month of February were the warmest on record for many Michigan cities, including Lansing. Local farmers are being impacted by Michigan's fluctuating weather.

"Farmers pay attention to the weather hour by hour," said Mark Kastner, owner of Hillcrest Farm.

But what is a normal winter like for farmers?

"I'm not too sure there is a normal winter. We had two really harsh winter then we had too fairly mild winters so its sort of feeling like there is not a normal, the new normal is some fairly erratic weather," said Anne Rauscher, Co-owner of Swallowtail Farm.

Climate Change poses many risks aside from health risks.

"There are agricultural risks. Farmers, especially fruit growers in Northwest Michigan, have seen when we get an early Spring that's followed by a cold snap, the fruit trees start to blossom and then the cold comes in and wipes out there fruit crops," said Andy McGlashen, Communications Director of the Michigan Environmental Council.

And local farmers have experienced this first hand.

"I'm a bit worried about the buds on my fruit trees and some of the other plants out there that are getting more zapped by the cold coming after the warm," Rauscher said.

And believe it or not, cold weather is needed for farming.

"A lot of the plants we grow have to have dormancy, which comes from cold weather. And we have to have below freezing temperatures for long periods of time to kill harmful pests. While warm weather is nice, its not beneficial necessarily for farming," Kastner said.

Warm weather with grey skies poses other risks.

"Not this winter but the winter before, we had some warmer temperatures but a lot of grey skies and that caused a lot of problems for me in the hoop house. It causes mold and fungus problems," Rauscher explained.

Compelling groups to call for immediate action to mitigate climate change.

“The record-breaking temperatures in February should serve as a wake-up call for communities and lawmakers to take action on climate change,” said Kate Madigan, Director of the Michigan Climate Action Network. “Michigan should do its part to fight climate change by continuing to pursue clean, renewable energy and reducing green house gas emissions that contribute to warming surface temperatures.”

Because climate change indeed, greatly affects Michigan's agriculture.

"It's definitely makes things a little bit harder when you cant predict what you're going to get," said Rauscher.

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