Climate Column - WildfireBy Tom Driscoll, NFU Director of Conservation Policy and Education

Previous posts to NFU’s blog explained that climate change increases the risk of drought. Drought is an enormous obstruction undermining farmers’ ability to ensure increased global food security. Drought also increases the likelihood of another problem for producers: wildfire.

USDA’s Northwest Regional Climate Hubs Assessment of Climate Change Vulnerability and Adaptation and Mitigation Strategies notes that wildfire in that region “has increased in the last decade and is predicted to increase even more.” In addition to the acute danger producers in affected areas face, wildfire creates opportunities for invasive weeds on rangelands, risking damage to forage and, ultimately, non-optimal livestock performance. Other climate-related rangeland challenges are expected to increase invasive weeds, and “This increase will be exacerbated by increases in wildfire size, frequency, and intensity.” Climate change’s impact on wildfire isn’t limited to the Northwest; the Plains, Northeast and Southwest Vulnerability Assessments also mention wildfire.

Have you noticed wildfire increases in recent years? We’d like to hear about your observations in the comments below. As serious a threat as wildfire presents to producers, farmers and ranchers have lots of options to decrease the severity of climate change and its associated risks, and to adapt to changes that are already underway. To learn more about these options, stay current with NFU’s Climate Column and read the USDA vulnerability assessment that covers your area.

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