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Economics of Climate Change

A changing climate is already being felt in the pocketbook. Whether these are direct, weather-related crop losses or new sources of income, weather and climate have a direct economic impact on Northeast producers.

Many are looking at long- and short-term strategies to improve their farm’s resilience to severe weather such as heavy rain storms or to profit from increasing average temperatures and longer growing seasons. Economic case studies provide additional insight on the impacts of climate change on specific producers and the solutions they have adopted. These can help farmers determine whether potential investments would be worthwhile. Other case studies analyze the value of potential solutions such as new infrastructure or equipment over the long term. In addition to these case studies, specific state resources and tools are available from NRCS and others. These include farm budgets, statistics, and various cost-benefit analyses.

Growing Milkweed in Vermont: An Economic Case Study

The milkweed plant has a range of benefits. These include its conservation value as monarch habitat, its pollinator services attracting pollinators for many crops, and its potential as a crop itself for the seed and floss fiber. Over the past 10 years, farmers have shifted their views on milkweed from a weed to a potentially valuable plant. In this case study, we look at approaches and related costs and benefits to growing milkweed. We provide an economic analysis of milkweed seed and floss production and look at potential demand.

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Economics of Gully Erosion Stabilization

Over the past 15 years, Last Resort Farm has seen an increase in the number of extreme weather events with heavy rains. Farm co-owner Eugenie says, “Storms have been worse, causing soil erosion. In June 2015, we had 20 inches of rain as measured by our rain gauges on the farm, and that was also confirmed by the Addison weather station.” Rainfall intensity is increasing in the Northeastern U.S., and stabilizing gullies is one strategy that can be used to protect against erosion. 

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Irrigation Pays in Protecting Crop Revenues in the Northeast

In the Northeast we are seeing more heavy rain but also extended dry periods. With this extreme and variable wet weather taking its toll on farms, a key question is: Does crop irrigation make sense as a farm resilience strategy given the overall increased precipitation in the Northeast? Surprisingly, a recent case study shows that irrigation pays.

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Additional Economic Case Studies and Tools