Hot temperatures and drought are having a negative effect on Georgia’s crops. One in seven Georgians works in agriculture or a related field. Agriculture contributes about $74.9 billion a year to Georgia’s economy.
Georgia’s warming climate means it will take more water to irrigate crops. At the same time, a warming climate also means more severe droughts. And severe droughts can cause crop failures. It’s the recipe for a vicious cycle.
Higher temperatures also reduce livestock productivity. When animals are under heat stress, they eat less and gain less weight.
According to the University of Georgia, the 2016 drought was extreme. It affected Georgia farmers statewide, not just in certain regions as typically happens.
As streams and other water sources dried up, farmers simply couldn’t find enough water to irrigate their crops. In north Georgia, some farmers lost entire corn crops. Others culled or sold off their livestock.
Climate change also fuels sharp weather swings and extreme weather events, both of which harm crops. In early 2017, Georgia’s peach farmers lost approximately 80% of their crops because of an overly warm winter followed by a hard freeze in spring. Blueberry farmers suffered a similar loss. Their combined losses totaled an estimated $300 million.
Then, months later, in September 2017, record-breaking Hurricane Irma made landfall in south Florida. By the time it hit Georgia, Irma was downgraded to a tropical storm, but its size and strength still caused heavy crop losses for Georgia’s pecan and cotton farmers. The impacts are still being assessed, as is potential additional damage that might result from insects and disease.
Our leaders in Congress are in the best position to slow climate change. Know where your candidate stands on climate change—and vote climate!