Greg Page, retired chief executive of Cargill, knows some farmers and ranchers view climate change as part of a liberal agenda. But he says agricultural producers to join the discussion.
The North Dakota-native isn’t interested in a debate over whether climate change exists or what’s the cause.
"I don’t think we need to become zealots," Page says. "But given the criticality of being able to feed an ever increasing population, I think to be so sure that it’s not happening, that we do nothing or even talk about it or think about it is a mistake."
That’s why when he talks about this issue, he brings up examples near and dear to farmers:hould universities quit doing research into resistant crops or genetics that might be more resilient?
"They say, ‘well, that would be crazy,’" Page says. "And I say, ‘I agree.’”
Page says when he talks specifics and is careful not to get bogged down in semantics, he finds there is a willingness to talk.
"So I think if you remove the word ‘man-caused climate change’ the conversation becomes more comfortable for everybody and we really start talking about resilience and adaptability," he says.
Page is a member of a coalition of business and policy leaders who’ve come together to prepare businesses for climate change. Other high profile members of the non-partisan “Risky Business Project” include, Hedge Fund billionaire Tom Steyer, Henry Paulson, the former chief executive of Goldman Sachs and former Treasury Secretary and Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York and founder of Bloomberg, L.P.
"The fear is that it will become an excuse for regulatory overreach and given the way the EPA has behaved in some instances in the past, there’s reason to worry about that," Page says. "But I think that worry is not a reason to discuss it and think about how agriculture can be more adaptive."
Page is to deliver the keynote address on the “Risky Business Project” November 15, 2016 at the Montana Farm Bureau Federation's annual convention in Billings. He says he also plans talk about trade agreements and how they benefit agriculture.