Through its recommendation to “Promote Sustainable Local Food,” GO TO 2040 promoted strategies to facilitate local food production, increase access to healthy food, and raise understanding and awareness of nutrition and food policy. ON TO 2050 reinforces the importance of those strategies, and also recognizes that the region’s agricultural economy will experience disruptions due to climate change. Localized changes in temperature and precipitation will alter crop yields and economic returns.

The ability of farmers to adapt to climate change through planting decisions, diversification, resilient strains of crops, land management practices, and emerging technologies will be crucial to ensuring a sustainable agricultural sector in our region. In addition, as crop production patterns shift nationally in response to climate disruption, the role of the region’s agricultural processing sector and its transportation network will likely need to adapt to new products and routes.

Diversifying agricultural production and increasing the amount of food grown locally can help the region respond to climate and distribution changes in the future, particularly if other parts of the country suffer greater climate challenges to agricultural systems. For the agricultural economy to withstand these changes, CMAP and partners should support sustainable land management practices through local planning, fund critical supporting organizations from federal and state resources, and consider the relationship between a resilient agricultural system and infrastructure priorities.

Ultimately, an agricultural system that better mimics, enhances, and complements our natural systems and contributes to land and water health would be better for the region and our downstream neighbors.

Action 1

Work with chambers of commerce, economic development professionals, stakeholders, and the local or state Farm Bureau to plan for and address the needs of a more diversified agricultural system.

Implementers

Counties and local governments

Action 2

Create a platform to strengthen agricultural systems on a variety of fronts, including climate resilience and diversification, infrastructure and logistics, and land protection.

Implementers

A regional partner

Action 3

Encourage sustainable land management practices and implementation of the Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy on agricultural lands.

Implementers

Municipalities, counties, and forest preserve and conservation districts

Action 4

Update plans and development ordinances to reduce barriers to local food production.

Implementers

Local governments