Climate Change Initiatives Compete for Ag Resources

Word along the Potomac is climate change will be one of the major issues debated throughout the 2020 campaign. Global accountability is expected to be the issue in all sectors of production and manufacturing, not just agriculture. My gut tells me it’s true and here’s why.

Wall Street has been quietly leading the charge on this front, and companies that are desiring strong investor appeal are now forced to consider “climate resiliency” as a component of their overall risk profile. Investment firms are directing traffic and setting the pace.  

Moreover, there are expectations for the inclusion of sustainability initiatives that are clearly outlined in company core values and mission statements. Business plans that do not include a clear commitment to people, planet and profit collectively are finding it difficult to attract investors.

When global companies, investors and governments make substantial commitments like these, it inevitably flows back through all production spaces. Especially when access to investor capital meshes with the potential for government driven subsidies. I see opportunity, but I also see some serious potential oncoming competitive challenges. Challenges that might eventually impact cattle producers. 

There is real potential for renewable energy to become a significant competitor for land resources moving forward. Solar farms seem primed to be the next energy boom. Even more so if they are fueled by access to motivated investor cash. They are popping up everywhere. There is currently a proposal for the largest solar farm in the world to be built in southwest Missouri, one that would consume about 8,000 acres of land.   

Land availability is already an issue for young cattlemen and women with a desire to grow. Right now, their major competition for rural production land is other ranchers. How might the landscape of ag change if renewable energy farms begin to compete for those limited resources? Furthermore, will government subsidies aid in their formidableness? 

Don’t scoff at the notion current forms of wind and solar energy capture aren’t efficient enough to invest more resources into additional expansion. Current limitations in the ability to effectively store energy should be overcome as technologies continue to evolve. Therefore, no reasonable case can be made for scrapping what has long-term viability. 

Climate change may or may not become a substantial global initiative. Regardless, we can assume it will reach a point where we can no longer ignore our role and place as stakeholders. If you are a young producer, now is the time to wrap your head around what’s coming and what food production will look like 10 to 20 years from now. 


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