The Impact of Climate Change on
Agriculture

Climate change has become a
significant challenge for many countries globally. Food security posed by the
adverse effects of climatic change has raised questions regarding the worlds’
capacity to supply food to an increasing population, while at the same time
sustaining an already stressed environment (Rosenzweig 14). Frequent extreme
weather conditions such as violent storms, droughts, and floods have negatively
impacted food and livestock productions, thus disrupting food supply chains and
the availability of certain foods in various regions (Nordås 27).  It is in the context of this background that
this paper highlights the impact of climate change on agriculture and
recommends steps that can be implemented to mitigate some of these effects.

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Just like in any country, the
agricultural sector plays a significant role in the economic growth of Canada.

More precisely, it contributes to about 6.6% of the country’s gross domestic
product (GDP). The sector is reported to have generated an estimated amount of
$108.1 billion in 2014 (Berrang-Ford 26). Furthermore, it is the largest
employer in the country and employs around 2.4 million people. On the other
hand, the sector relies heavily on climate change which plays a vital role in
influencing crop productivity, animal production, and water availability, just
to mention (Rosenzweig 15). It is therefore not surprising that factors such as
unpredictable weather changes pose a significant threat, especially, to the
country’s economy, future food supply, and stability. This is especially the
case because frequent and unpredictable extreme weather conditions such as
drought, violent storms, and floods, are more likely to interfere with the
supply chain and production of certain crop yields and livestock, thus
impacting the economy and agricultural sector negatively (Rosenzweig 19). 

Impacts
of Climate Change

The agricultural sector in Canada has
undergone numerous changes over the last few decades. For instance, the number
of people practicing agriculture in the region has significantly declined
compared to the previous years. This development is linked to various factors
such as climate change, shifts in consumer preferences, government policies,
and advances in technology (Nelson 21). The economy in general and the food
production sector in particular has suffered dramatically due to these radical
changes. This is as evidenced by many studies which have shown that the drought
in 2001-2002 saw agricultural exports and output decline by almost one-quarter,
thus reducing the country’s GDP by $5.8 billion and employment rate by 1%
(Rosenzweig 22). There is need to design and implement effective measures that
would help counter the harmful effects of climate change more so as witnessed
in the agricultural sector.

Food
Insecurity

One major challenge posed by climate
change in Canada is food insecurity. Worse still, variability in rainfall,
prolonged droughts, and frequent extreme weather conditions, are anticipated to
become more frequent in the coming decades, thus disrupting food supply chains
and the production of particular crop yields in some regions. Studies have
shown that temperatures are more likely to rise across the country with an
annual average of up to 4.6 degrees centigrade throughout the century (Nelson
21). In addition, an increase in atmospheric temperature is likely to result in
more severe droughts, violent storms, and a decline in the snow cover, thus
affecting the growth and development of crop yields such as wheat, barley, and
canola (Delgado 18). Food insecurity will be more magnified because farming
activities will not go on as successfully.

Impact
on dairy Farming

Predicted climate changes will have
a negative impact on dairy farmers and consumers of dairy products. Extreme
weather conditions such as heat waves, decreased rainfall, and drought will
affect the quality of pasture and affect the output of grazing animals. In the same
matter, studies suggest that a decrease in rainfall by more than 10% will
impact immensely on the growth of crops and pasture in some areas, thus
affecting animal production (Rosenzweig 27). Moreover, the elevated levels of
CO2 in the country is more likely to result in a reduction in the foliar
nitrogen concentration in plants, and impact the production capacity and
nutritional value of pasture used in grazing animals. Contextual poor fields
may affect the quality of milk, cheese, meat, and other dairy products (Nelson
21). Besides, it may also affect the health and well-being of animals, thus
leading to more financial losses for farmers and consumers of dairy products.

Implications
on Food Prices

The impact of climate change on the
agricultural sector could increase food prices. For instance, research has
shown that the California drought that began in 2012 has had a major impact on
the costs of vegetables and fruits in Canada (Smit 86). In the context of this
illustration, most of the plants and fruits consumed in Canada come from
California, which had been adversely affected by the drought in question, thus
leading to increased food prices (Nordås 29). The effect on food prices is
clear considering that the costs of vegetables increased by 40%, while that of
fresh fruits by 43%. Additionally, the Cyclone Larry that took place in 2009
destroyed almost 90% of the North Queensl’and banana crop, thus resulting in an
increase in prices by 500% after a decline in supply for nearly nine months
(Rosenzweig 29). Therefore, the rapid increase of food prices is expected to
continue if no mitigating measures are taken to counter the adverse effects of
climate change.

Mitigation
Strategies

The purpose of undertaking
mitigation strategies in the agricultural sector is to minimize future and
current effects of climate changes effectively. The approaches taken now could
help inform future decisions of farmers, policymakers, and other key
stakeholders, thus minimizing the adverse effects of climate change
(Berrang-Ford 27).  Some of the
strategies that could be implemented include the use of crop development
models, irrigation systems, and crop species with a greater resistant to
climate change, among other approaches (Smit 89). In this regard, the use of
irrigation scheme methods could help farmers preserve water and counter the
effects of extreme weather conditions such as drought and wildfires.

Additionally, adopting advanced crop species with a greater resistance to
climatic changes would protect farmers against financial losses often caused by
extreme weather events (Delgado 26). Besides, it would ensure future food
security and supply in the country. Lastly, the use of crop development models
could help researchers study the effects of global warming and climate change
on agriculture, thus making it possible to consider efficient adaptation
strategies.

Climate change is expected to affect
the quality and seasonality of many foods in Canada. For instance, increased
temperatures could result in frequent droughts and more resistant pests and
thus impact the country’s wine growing region, which is likely to affect the
quality of wine in the long run (Nordås 27). Therefore, many wine farmers and
consumers are concerned about the anticipated climatic changes, and feel that the
government should take more drastic measures to counter these effects before
they occur (Delgado 25) Additionally, the yields of many important crop species
such as wheat, corn, and barley are anticipated to decrease significantly due
to global warming, which is expected to escalate by more than 30% across the
country (Smit 89). Moreover, these changes could influence the increased use of
more heat-tolerant breeds in beef production and affect the quality of meat and
reproductive rates. It is not disputable that more farmers, consumers, and
suppliers of these products are likely to suffer nutritional and financial
loses.

The implementation of climate change
policies such as the carbon tax and the direct-action plan is another step
currently being utilized by developed countries towards sustainability. Here,
the main objective of the policies is to minimize the emission of greenhouse
gasses, which is regarded as the greatest contributors to climate change in the
world. From studies, it has emerged that greenhouse gases enhance global
warming, thus leading to extreme weather events such as wildfires and droughts,
among other effects (Smit 90). In addition, the carbon tax policy ensures that
the largest emitters of greenhouse gasses are charged for every tone of carbon
they emit. On the other hand, the direct-action plan provides incentives to
emitters for emission reduction initiatives, thus minimizing the level of
greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere (Berrang-Ford 32). Indeed, farmers are more
likely to benefit from the reduction of carbon in the atmosphere since it will
counter the effects of climate change on agriculture.

In conclusion, climate change has
become a significant threat to food production and security in many developed
countries globally. In other words, frequent extreme weather conditions such as
drought, floods, and violent storms, have negatively impacted the production
and quality of livestock and food in various regions. According to research,
these trends are more likely to continue if no effective mitigating strategies
are taken. In this context, the Canadian government has implemented various
policies such as the carbon tax policy and the direct-action plan, to minimize
greenhouse gas emission which is among the leading causes of global warming.

Other adaptation measures that could be implemented include the use of crop
development models, irrigation schemes, and crop species that are resistant to
climate change. These mitigating strategies will protect farmers against huge
financial loses commonly caused by extreme weather events and ensure food
security within the country. It is, therefore, the responsibility of the
government and policymakers to ensure that these initiatives are enforced and
efficiently implemented.