Agriculture is the number one industry in Georgia, contributing about $76 billion each year to the state's economy. It's critical to our state as a whole, but especially to Georgia’s rural communities. When it comes to scaling the solutions to climate change, it’s the people on the ground -- those who are running their own farm operations and related businesses -- that understand the stakes and the opportunities better than anyone.
This is why Farmer and Drawdown Georgia Leadership Council member Casey Cox feels it is so important for the agricultural community to take a seat at the table when it comes to climate solutions.
As the sixth generation to work her family’s farm on the banks of the Flint River in Southwest Georgia, Casey believes that farming helped foster her passion for land conservation and stewardship. At Longleaf Ridge Farms, the Cox family grows sweet corn, peanuts, and soybeans, but over half their land is timber, some of which is managed commercially and much of which is conserved. These longleaf pine forests were the inspiration for the farm’s name.
Casey’s parents saw the management of their land as a form of stewardship -- carefully and responsibly managing the land that has been entrusted to them. For her, the concept of conservation and the natural resources that her family’s farm is grounded in are the thread that connects the six generations of her heritage with her livelihood and her future: they all depend on taking care of the land.
As a farmer, Casey is well aware of how closely she and the farm are linked to the impacts of climate change. “The week that Hurricane Michael hit,” she recalls. “Someone told me that when Mother Nature is your business partner, you never know what to expect.” It’s an idea she still thinks about a lot, particularly in the context of climate change and how it's going to impact her future as a farmer.
This is why it’s essential, Casey believes, that the climate research community connect with farmers and other stakeholders in the agriculture industry: it’s the only way to fully understand the limitations and challenges this community faces, and the only way to successfully scale climate solutions in this sector. She says, “I believe that the future of agriculture and the future of Georgia are tied together… That’s why I’m passionate about working to build solutions together and believe it’s important to include the agricultural voice as much as possible.”
Watch our complete interview with Casey Cox above, or visit our YouTube channel now.