Crop Insurance Expansion without Climate Adaptation Poses Risks for Farmers
Recent Farm Bill proposals to expand crop insurance for U.S. farmers have failed to acknowledge threats to agriculture from climate change, finds a new report from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP).
In their report, A Risky Proposition: Crop Insurance in the Face of Climate Change, authors Julia Olmstead and Jim Kleinschmit argue that crop insurance expansion without climate adaptation for agriculture would threaten food security and farmers’ livelihoods, while increasing costs for taxpayers.
“Agriculture is extremely vulnerable to the effects of climate change,” said Kleinschmit. “Farmers need support to make their land more resilient to floods, droughts and the other pressures climate change brings. Revenue insurance proposals help farmers financially cope with disasters, but do nothing to help them minimize risk in the field.”
Research indicates that diversified farms that incorporate livestock and perennials are more resilient than single-crop farming systems to the increases in flooding, drought and pest invasions associated with climate change. Current federal crop insurance programs, and the “shallow-loss” revenue insurance programs that have been proposed for the 2012 Farm Bill, discourage crop diversification and encourage farmers to take on unwieldy amounts of risk.
A better option, says the report, would be for farmers participating in federal crop insurance programs to practice “climate compliance,” in which they would work with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to develop a whole-farm plan to increase climate resilience and receive support via Farm Bill conservation programs to implement the plan. This cost-savings plan would help curb the risk of large federal outlays on insurance payouts and would leverage already existing Farm Bill programs such as the Conservation Stewardship Program and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program.
“It’s shocking that amid all the discussion of crop insurance expansion, no one is talking about the reasons why farmers need more protection from risk,” said Olmstead. “This year’s severe droughts and floods should be clear indications that if we don’t take steps to help farmers protect their farms from climate change, we’re not only putting the federal budget at risk, but our entire food supply as well.”
IATP supports policies in the U.S. and internationally that help farmers adapt to the effects of climate change and will be producing an upcoming Web series profiling farmers who have withstood extreme weather by building resilience into their farming systems.
For more information, click here.
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An All-Rounder<p>Vitamin D levels in the body rise and fall according to sun exposure. If sufficient UV rays reach the skin, the body is able to produce the vitamin itself. However, the human body only derives an estimated 10 to 20 percent of its daily requirement from food.</p><p>The vitamin D that we synthesize from sunlight or food is not biologically active at first. Before the kidneys can produce the biologically active form of the vitamin, known as calcitriol, and release it into the blood, some metabolic processes must take place beforehand.</p><p>In addition, many organs have receptors to which the precursor of calcitriol binds. Further, this substance is also present in blood.</p><p>From this precursor, the organs then produce calcitriol themselves, which the body then uses for countless other processes in the body. This form of vitamin D thus regulates insulin secretion, inhibits tumor growth, and promotes the formation of red blood cells as well as the survival and activity of macrophages, which are important for the <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/5/7/2502/htm" target="_blank">immune system.</a></p>
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Association Versus Intervention Studies<p>Many studies on the vitamin are association or observational studies. "By definition, these studies cannot prove the causal relationship, but only point to mere correlations," said Fassnacht. The physician tries to illustrate this with an example:</p><p>"Imagine two groups of 80-year-olds. One group is spry, active and does sports. If you compare them with another group living in nursing homes, the difference in vitamin D levels will be dramatic. Life expectancy would also be extremely different."</p><p>But to try to explain the difference in fitness by vitamin D status alone is far too simplistic. "Vitamin D levels are a good measure of how sick someone is. But not more," says Fassnacht. </p><p>According to Fassnacht, none of the intervention studies carried out to date -- that specifically examined the effect of vitamin D on various diseases -- has been able to confirm the previous association and laboratory studies or the presumed positive effect of vitamin D.</p>
Further Research Is Needed<p>"If a coronavirus infection is suspected, it is therefore absolutely necessary to check the vitamin D status and quickly correct any possible deficit," said the recommendation of the paper published by the University of Hohenheim.</p><p>"Studies are underway to see whether vitamin D helps in COVID-19 infection, but I personally do not believe that this is really the case," says endocrinologist Fassnacht. Nevertheless, he says it is of course useful to carry out these studies.<br></p><p>"I don't want to rule out that there are actually subgroups of people who benefit from an additional vitamin D dose," he says. After all, this has been proven to be the case with a severe deficit.</p><p>In view of the study situation, Fassnacht does not think much of preventive, nationwide vitamin D substitutes. "My belief that the vitamin helps somewhere is very low. But, of course, I can be wrong."</p>
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