“Climate change is real;” Researchers warn extreme weather events could impact Illinois agriculture


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Researchers at the University of Illinois estimate U.S. interstate trade could mitigate the impact of climate change on agricultural profit by a capacity of $14.5 billion.

Dept. of Agricultural and Consumer Economics Professor Sandy Dall’erba said he was inspired to conduct this research in part because of his belief that climate change is real.

“I understand that some people do not believe in climate change,” he said. “But I think it’s really happening. We’re going to be, in my view, experiencing some more extreme weather events like the drought we saw in 2012 in the Midwest.”

He said that could have consequences with respect to food security both in the U.S. and internationally.

“We totally live in a global world,” Dall’erba said. “The global supply chain is truly international. So, as a result, events that are taking place way outside of your own country might, to some extent, affect your own economy.”

He pointed to COVID-19’s impact on products as well as the large ship that became stuck in the Suez Canal for several days as examples.

As far as Illinois is concerned, Dall’erba said the state is the largest player in the U.S. in terms of imports and exports worth $11 billion. Back in 2012, a drought that hit the Midwest cut the state’s corn production by 34%. Texas, which typically gets corn from Illinois and other Midwestern states, instead turned to Kansas during that time period.

While this study mainly focused on interstate trade, Dall’erba said Illinois is highly dependent on demand from China when it comes to soybeans.

“That demand is really driving the production of soybean in our country, as well as everything that goes into the soybean, for instance, a lot of the water that is going to be used in order to grow that soybean will to some extent be shaped as we are selling that soybean to China,” he explained.

His team is also researching what the requirements are to grow crops across the U.S. and where the end products and commodities travel around the world.

Dall’erba said his study concluded without trade, climate change could create an $11.2 billion loss in interstate trade by mid-century. However, trade could mitigate the impact of climate change by $14.5 billion, leading to a $3.3 billion profit instead.

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