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Climate Change Could Be Costlier For Farmers, Study Finds

Soybeans and corn grow in front of wind turbines at the Meadow Lake wind farm in northwest Indiana.

Photo: Annie Roepik/IPB News

Soybeans and corn grow in front of wind turbines at the Meadow Lake wind farm in northwest Indiana.

New research from Purdue University finds that climate change could have far more adverse impacts on agriculture than originally thought.

The study provides a new “social cost of carbon.” State and federal agencies often use the metric to determine the damage additional carbon dioxide released to the atmosphere will have on society and the economy.

Scientists used to think more carbon would benefit farmers. But Purdue agricultural economics professor Thomas Hertel says that research is out of date and that more carbon will likely cost the ag sector.

“The main way in which this would be felt would be through higher food prices,” Hertel says. “Higher than would’ve otherwise been the case in the absence of this climate change.”

And that could be especially true for Indiana and other Midwestern states.

“We’re talking about, as these temperatures rise, some pretty significant yield effects,” he says.

Scientists at Purdue and the University of California-Davis conducted the study.

Earlier this year, President Donald Trump ordered federal agencies to change how they calculate the social cost of carbon in a way that makes it seem smaller.

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