FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, Nov. 4, 2013

U.S. Senators Stabenow and Wyden discuss climate trends, economics and agriculture at Lansing event

LANSING – Senator Debbie Stabenow, chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, and Senator Ron Wyden, chair of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, heard from Michigan’s agriculture sector today at event on the economic impacts of climate trends.

“Agriculture is Michigan’s second-largest industry, supporting nearly one in four jobs,” said Sen. Stabenow. “In Michigan, we’ve seen a string of recent weather events that have affected segments of Michigan’s agriculture sector. However, Michigan’s farmers are up to meeting the challenge, and today was a great opportunity to hear about how they are adapting to changes in weather patterns.”

Sen. Stabenow’s 2013 bipartisan Senate Farm Bill strengthens effective conservation tools farmers are already using to protect land and water for future generations. Her bill also provides disaster relief for fruit growers and livestock owners who faced severe weather last year and strengthens crop insurance to protect them from future disasters. Last week, Chairwoman Stabenow kicked off the Farm Bill conference committee, the final phase in the effort to complete a five-year Farm Bill that will reduce the deficit and create agriculture jobs.

The event brought together some of the most vibrant members of Michigan’s agriculture and agribusiness sector and experts from Michigan State University to discuss how agriculture and the food production sector can adapt to changing weather patterns and future weather disasters in Michigan.

“Changing climate trends affect everything in agriculture,” said Jim Byrum, president of the Michigan Agri-Business Association. “It’s a double-edged sword. In the short term, warmer temperatures mean increased yields, longer growing seasons and more land open to farming. In the long term, however, these trends could be detrimental to Michigan agriculture as we see more frequent extreme weather events and additional pest pressure.”

The event also included a discussion on the ways that agriculture and private sector businesses are working together to implement more sustainability measures.

“Farmers and agribusinesses have a vested in interest in sustainability because it makes our businesses more efficient, which saves money and helps protect our air, land and water,” said Byrum. “The private sector is demanding a more sustainable product, and that’s driving agriculture to continue embracing new sustainability initiatives.”