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New Climate Resiliency Program to Address Long-Term Plant Agriculture Challenges in Michigan
Michigan Ag Connection - 02/05/2024

2023 was the warmest year on record across the globe, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Since 1850, the 10 warmest years have occurred in the past decade. Climate scientists have pointed to this trend as the root of more frequent and severe weather events.

For growers and producers of agricultural commodities, these climate challenges pose a variety of threats. From the extremes of flooding and drought to new pests and diseases, the environmental conditions farmers contend with are increasingly difficult to manage.

In Michigan, agricultural industries are dealing with both short- and long-term issues, but most funding has been provided to address urgent needs.

But a new partnership among the plant coalition (Michigan plant agriculture organizations), the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD), and Michigan State University is aimed at helping Michigan plant agriculture mitigate and adapt to climate change, while promoting environmental sustainability and the protection and efficient use of the state’s water resources.

The concept of the Agricultural Climate Resiliency Program started several years ago with the plant coalition. The organizations’ leaders were interested in a mechanism that could benefit all of Michigan plant agriculture.

“This initiative really began in about 2016 when Michigan agriculture leaders got together and discussed research that could cut across commodities,” said Jim Zook, executive director of the Corn Marketing Program of Michigan. “Existing programs have done a nice job of meeting specific industry needs, but we needed something that would support longer-term research for the betterment of Michigan agriculture as a whole. It’s essential to involve growers in this process because they’re the ones who have dedicated their lives to these industries, and MSU does a great job of working with them directly.”

For MSU leaders, the Agricultural Climate Resiliency Program represents an opportunity to position the university at the forefront of climate and water research, while delivering practical strategies to growers.

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