Climate Change

(Greg) Whether it’s climate change or an evolving weather that confronts agriculture, I think any time wasted debating that is time that we don’t spend preparing for a myriad of outcomes that we could have. So, I joined with Cargill’s agreement, a group called Risky Business, at the request of the former Secretary of the Treasury, Hank Paulson. And we’d worked with Secretary Paulson on a host of issues. He and Mayor Bloomberg of New York, put up the money to look at climate change, not through the eyes of scientists, but through the eyes of financial analytics. And so rather than describing causes or naming specific prescriptions for what we should do, we focus on what are the economic implications and they use the kind of scenario writing that you would use in a financial business when you undertook a risk. Feeding the world is something that we should be careful not to use the fact that we don’t know how this is going to end, we don’t know the speed of evolution that we might confront. But that’s not an excuse to do nothing. And so we’re trying to get agriculture to join in the discussion about how we build more resilience into our crops, into our marketing systems, into the railroads, or the Mississippi River that serves us. There’s a host of things that we can do as part of the normal cycle of refreshing our capital that will make those more resilient to whatever we might face. (Eric) If you would expand on what you just said, some of the innovative thoughts that could come to bear. (Greg) A lot of them are simple things. We’ve been doing them already, we just may have to do them at a more heightened level. The planting window that existed 25 or 30 years ago, somebody taking three or four weeks to plant their crop would think nothing of it. And today most of the farmers that we see out there have acquired the machinery to be able to plant on a much tighter window. If you look at genetics, we have crops that will germinate in colder soil and expand the amount of growing season available. I grew up in North Dakota-wheat, barley, oats, those are the only choices. And today there are over 30 crops that are viable. Part of it because we have more frost free days than we did, eight or nine more, as a result of the evolution in our weather. Part of it because the genetics allows seeds to germinate more quickly and to mature and dry down more quickly. (Eric) Technology, as you’re saying, is so instrumental in addressing this tall challenge, GMO’s are a perfect example. How do you tell the world if you will, that these technologies must be embraced in the cause of feeding the world in the midst of climate change? (Greg) I am of the belief that we have a wonderful message, but companies like Cargill and Monsanto are terrible messengers. We need to take a very good message which I believe we as production agriculture have and define the messengers that are seen as trusted agnostics. We need to match a very good message, which we have, of less water and less soil erosion and fewer greenhouse gases as a result of less fertilization. The list goes on and on. And convert that into a story that’s accepted in the suburbs of Chicago and Minneapolis and go from there.

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