Climate Change and South American Farmers’ Livestock Choices

South American farmers choose livestock species for agriculture<!–[if supportFields]>XE “agriculture” <![endif]–><!–[if supportFields]><![endif]–> use based on the range of climate.  They specialize in beef and cattle exports, which are the primary species on around 48% of farms, but climate change will likely have a negative impact on agricultural production, and threaten food security.  Seo et al. (2010) examine how the livestock choices will respond to climate change, looking at five species in seven countries.  The multinominal logit model used in the study proved climate variables are highly significant in determining the species choice.  Large changes were seen in Andean countries, but overall the impacts from climate change vary by species and climate.—Whitney Dawson
Seo N<!–[if supportFields]> XE “nitrogen, N” <![endif]–><!–[if supportFields]><![endif]–><!–[if supportFields]> XE “nitrogen” <![endif]–><!–[if supportFields]><![endif]–>. S., McCarl, B. A., Mendelsohn, R., 2010.  From beef cattle to sheep<!–[if supportFields]> XE “sheep” <![endif]–><!–[if supportFields]><![endif]–> under global warming?  An analysis of adaptation by livestock species choice in South America. El Selvier published ahead of print August 20, 2010, doi: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2010.07.025

Seo et al. developed a multinominal logit model to measure the effects of climate change on livestock species.  Farmers from a broad array of climate conditions in seven different countries were surveyed to collect data for the model.  The data set includes information on livestock production and transactions, livestock products, and relevant costs.  The five primary livestock species that were examined are commonly raised in South America: beef cattle, dairy cattle, pigs, sheep<!–[if supportFields]> XE “sheep” <![endif]–><!–[if supportFields]><![endif]–>, and chickens.  The model controlled for soils, geography, household characteristics, and country fixed effects.  Climate data for a 16-year time period were gathered from satellites operated by the US Department of Defense, and the ground weather measurement from the World Meteorological Organization. 
The scientific evidence that livestock production is strongly affected by climate conditions is convincing, and seen in impacts to animal performance, the supply of feedstuffs, and disease distribution. A hot and dry scenario showed a decrease in beef cattle by 3.2%, dairy cattle by 2.3%, pigs by 0.5% and chickens by 0.9% by 2060, and an increase in sheep<!–[if supportFields]>XE “sheep” <![endif]–><!–[if supportFields]><![endif]–> by 7% to compensate.  The increase in sheep occurs mostly in Andes<!–[if supportFields]> XE “Andes” <![endif]–><!–[if supportFields]><![endif]–> mountain countries, but decreases in the higher mountain areas, where chickens are more frequently chosen.  A warmer temperature is likely to cause cattle productivity to fall, and to impact reproduction rates. Chickens are opted for in wetter zones, and dairy cattle choice increases with precipitation, but so does the incidence of livestock diseases.
The study was unique in comparison to past similar studies, in that it controlled detailed household level information data in the model.  The data included in the model controlled for multiple variables, and household information was controlled to determine how various farm heads would change their livestock choices.  Older farm heads prefer cattle, and more educated farm heads prefer beef cattle or pigs.  Female farm heads and long time private landowners tend to avoid chickens.  These results demonstrate a female tendency to choose less risky species in comparison to younger male farm heads, in their choosing of beef cattle, a more profitable species.
Where many livestock species choices vary across the countries in South America, the choice of beef cattle will decline across the continent.  Beef cattle are an important part of the agriculture<!–[if supportFields]> XE “agriculture” <![endif]–><!–[if supportFields]><![endif]–> industry across the continent, and the authors suggest concern on a policy level due to its vulnerability, and the high dependency on the agricultural economy.  Although dairy cattle choice will decline across the continent, increases are seen in Uruguay and Argentina<!–[if supportFields]> XE “Argentina” <![endif]–><!–[if supportFields]><![endif]–>. The likelihood of choosing sheep<!–[if supportFields]> XE “sheep” <![endif]–><!–[if supportFields]><![endif]–> increases across all countries.  Climate changes are going to change livestock patterns on a large scale because the entire ecosystem is likely to change.  If the current savannah habitat changes to forest<!–[if supportFields]>XE “forest”<![endif]–><!–[if supportFields]><![endif]–>, livestock grazing<!–[if supportFields]> XE “grazing” <![endif]–><!–[if supportFields]><![endif]–> will become difficult.  Seo et al. found that farmers are more likely to choose livestock over crops as temperature increases, though the livestock species adopted varies greatly.  
The authors did not include price as a variable in their model, and do not know how price will change in the future, nor did they examine potential changes in population, taste, technologies, reliance on regional agriculture<!–[if supportFields]> XE “agriculture” <![endif]–><!–[if supportFields]><![endif]–> economy, and in political structures.  These unaccounted for changes could affect agricultural practices greatly, and farmer revenue changes would also have a large impact on livestock species choice. 

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