Rural communities face many challenges, and climate change is only making matters worse. Flooding and drought are hitting rural communities hard, causing massive financial losses for farmers, who are also facing low commodity prices and bearing the brunt of an international trade war. And the rural landscape is changing as farmland is being lost to the same development pressures that are contributing to climate change. These challenges are creating a palpable sense among rural residents that their way of life is changing and under threat.
Shifting weather patterns are one of the most noticeable changes. For example, in Iowa, the past 18 months have been the wettest on record, according to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.1 Iowa climatologists cite climate change as one of the key causes of flooding in the state. Across the Midwest, flooding caused $3 billion in damage in 2019.2 According to an August 2019 poll, 1 in 4 Iowans say that they or someone in their family has experienced property damage or other economic hardships as a result of flooding or severe storm damage in the past 12 months.3