Report: Missouri Could See Dangerous Heat, Steep Drop In Crop Yields

Drought-stricken corn is raising prices for feed and livestock. Farms throughout Missouri are getting out of livestock.
A new study suggests Missouri could see significant drops in crop yields if climate change isn’t addressed.  | Pavan Vangipuram/Missouri Business Alert

Climate change continuing at its current rate could cause a 73 percent loss in average yield for Missouri farms by the end of this century and an average of 20 days per year that it’s unsafe for Midwesterners to be outside by the middle of the next century, according to a study released Tuesday by the Risky Business Project.

The Risky Business Project was launched in October 2013 by a bipartisan group of high-profile business and political leaders. The group, co-chaired by former New York mayor and Bloomberg L.P. founder Michael Bloomberg, former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Farallon Capital Management founder Tom Steyer, partnered with economic research firm the Rhodium Group to “quantify and publicize” the economic impact of climate change, according to the Risky Business website.

The report breaks the U.S. into six different regions and describes the potential effect of climate change on each. The Midwest, which includes Missouri, may be particularly affected by these climate changes due to its reliance on agriculture.

The Midwest includes more than 520,000 farms that generated annual revenue of $135.6 billion as of 2012, the report says. The region produces more than 65 percent of the nation’s corn and soybeans. If the industry is to continue its usual practices, farmers in states like Illinois and Missouri could face up to a 15 percent average yield loss in the next five to 25 years, and a 73 percent likely average yield loss by 2100.

The report offers several suggestions for farmers to consider when planning their business practices: seed modification, crop switching and double- and triple-cropping.

Risky Business’ report also projects that Missouri will have between 46 and 115 days per year that temperatures top 95 degrees by the end of the century; that includes two days per average year that the combination of heat and humidity makes it dangerous for people to be outside. By the middle of the 22nd century, that number would climb to more than 20 days per year, the study says.

“The projected increase in Midwest surface air temperatures won’t just affect the health of the region’s crops,” the Risky Business website says, “it will also put the region’s residents at risk.”


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