Summarizing Scientific Knowledge about Agriculture and Climate Change in the Northwest U.S. and Plotting a Roadmap for the Future

By Liz Allen

Pivot at sunset, residue on crop rows, a wheat field, and person in orchard.
This white paper integrates stakeholders¹ recommendations with a review of current scientific information about climate change and agriculture in the Northwest U.S.
Image credits, clockwise from top left: Lower Lake Ranch Road Sunset, by Michael McCullough; Marysville Wind Turbines, by Amit Patel; Columbia Gorge Apple Orchard, by Oregon Department of Agriculture; Palouse Wheat Field, by Matt Olson. All Creative Commons by NC 2.0.

Back in March of 2016, a group of agriculture sector stakeholders– including researchers, policy makers and producers– met in Tri-Cities, Washington, for the Agriculture in a Changing Climate Workshop. The three-day workshop was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Northwest Climate Hub and National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Facilitators from the William D. Ruckelshaus Center were instrumental in supporting generative dialogue. Workshop participants worked together to define priorities for the future research and extension efforts focused on climate change mitigation and adaptation in the Northwest.

A newly released white paper synthesizes high-priority recommendations that were articulated by participants at the workshop. A team of white paper authors has been working over the past several months to couple workshop recommendations with a review of current scientific knowledge about climate impacts, vulnerabilities, and opportunities to adapt and reduce agriculture’s contribution to human-caused climate change. The white paper enumerates research and extension priorities for the coming years in four areas: (1) cropping systems, (2) livestock systems, (3) decision support systems to help producers and others incorporate climate change considerations into longer-term decisions; and (4) partnerships and communication among researchers and stakeholders.

The wide range of research and extension priorities articulated in this white paper highlight the need for ongoing investment and strategic collaboration and knowledge sharing to develop actionable science. By developing a shared vision, researchers, extension professionals and diverse stakeholders in the region can more effectively facilitate utilization of scientific knowledge in the agriculture sector as the climate changes.

This article is also posted on the WSU CSANR Perspectives in Sustainability blog.