Natural Foods Merchandiser

USDA seeking input on climate policy

by Hilary Oliver

Climate change is already affecting U.S agriculture, water and land resources, as well as biodiversity, according to a report compiled by 13 government agencies that was released in May. But what comes next, if the U.S. wants to mitigate the harmful effects of climate change and adapt agricultural production to the coming fluctuations? That's what the U.S. Department of Agriculture wants to know. The USDA is asking for public input on its Climate Change Strategic Planning Priorities and Goals for Research, Education and Extension.

The May report discussed how increases in temperature and carbon dioxide levels will likely lead to grain and oilseed crop cycles progressing more quickly, and probably failing more often, while yields of many other crops—such as fruits—will probably be even more sensitive to the changes. The changing climate will also likely affect weed populations, according to the report, while earlier springs and warmer winters will also increase disease pressure on crops and domestic animals as more pathogens and parasites survive through the cooler months.

The USDA is looking for practical ways to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions from agriculture and forestry while educating stakeholders about climate change issues. Setting priorities for the next five years, the USDA Agricultural Research Service is looking for ways to sustain agricultural production while minimizing emissions of trace gasses and creating resilience in agricultural systems as the environment changes.

Seeking the best way to educate stakeholders, collaborate with the scientific community and establish tools for policymakers and land managers to help them reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, the USDA is asking for public input. The deadline is Sept. 19. Comments can be sent to [email protected] To see the original report or review the planning priorities, visit

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXVIII/number 9/p. 9

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