Adapting the US Food System to Climate Change Goes Beyond the Farm Gate

Monday, 15 December 2014: 11:32 AM
William E Easterling, Pennsylvania State University Main Campus, University Park, PA, United States
The literature on climate change effects on food and agriculture has concentrated primarily on how crops and livestock likely will be directly affected by climate variability and change and by elevated carbon dioxide. Integrated assessments have simulated large-scale economic response to shifting agricultural productivity caused by climate change, including possible changes in food costs and prices. A small but growing literature has shown how different facets of agricultural production inside the farm gate could be adapted to climate variability and change. Very little research has examined how the full food system (production, processing and storage, transportation and trade, and consumption) is likely to be affected by climate change and how different adaptation approaches will be required by different parts of the food system. This paper will share partial results of a major assessment sponsored by USDA to determine how climate change-induced changes in global food security could affect the US food system. Emphasis is given to understanding how adaptation strategies differ widely across the food system. A common thread, however, is risk management-based decision making. Technologies and management strategies may co-evolve with climate change but a risk management framework for implementing those technologies and strategies may provide a stable foundation.