Temperature and precipitation patterns, as well as changes in weed, pest, and disease prevalence are already occurring under a changing climate. These effects are expected to result in transformations in ecosystem functioning and in the economic viability of agriculture in many regions of the world, as well as in the refrigeration requirements of food products, transportation patterns, and other effects. The US is currently a major food importer and exporter, and provides a safety net for many food insecure nations. Global changes both in climate and in food security are therefore likely to influence the US food system through altered production decisions, the goods available to consumers, and their prices. The Global Climate Change, Food Security, and the US Food System report will examine how a changing climate may affect global food security today, in 25 years, and in 100 years. The report, to be published by USDA as a technical input to the National Climate Assessment, will provide a review of current literature and will report on analyses that illuminate the interactions between climate and food security. Publication is anticipated in the Fall of 2015.
The USDA, through its Climate Change Program Office, has been actively taking steps and implementing programs to address the risks from climate change. The USDA Climate Change Adaptation Plan, which they announced in June 2012, presented strategies and actions to address the effects of climate change on key mission areas including agricultural production, food security, rural development, and forestry and natural resources conservation. As part of the President’s Climate Action Plan, in February 2014 the USDA established seven regional climate hubs, which deliver science-based knowledge and practical information to farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners on a regional basis to support decision-making related to climate change. Two recent reports released by the USDA provide comprehensive syntheses of the scientific literature on climate change effects and adaptation strategies for US agriculture and forests.
In May, The Chicago Council released its report, Advancing Global Food Security in the Face of a Changing Climate, which found US government action can curb the risks climate change poses to global food security, and calls on the government to integrate climate change adaptation into its global food security strategy.