June 5, 2015

Contact: Andrew Jerome, 202-314-3106

WASHINGTON (June 5, 2015) – National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson filed comments today on the United States Global Change Research Program’s (USGCRP) draft report, The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States: A Scientific Assessment (Climate and Health Assessment). The Climate and Health Assessment will help Americans understand the changing health risks they face as the U.S. continues to experience climate change.

“USGCRP explains many of the challenges agriculture faces due to climate change in the Climate and Health Assessment, including food safety and distribution concerns,” said Johnson. “As work on this draft continues, NFU asks the USGCRP to consider the risk to food security posed by food system consolidation. Climate change has the potential to drive farm consolidation, leading to increased reliance on food distribution networks that are vulnerable to climate-related disruption.”

Johnson notes that the changes farmers will have to make to adjust to climate change are expected to be expensive, in some cases too expensive for family farmers servicing local and regional markets. As the growing expense of farming in a changing climate drives some farmers out of business, local and regional food systems may atrophy, leaving communities with few alternatives to national and global food distribution systems.

But as the Climate and Health Assessment points out, food shipping is increasingly vulnerable to severe disruption related to climate change. “Communities will learn that the smaller growers nearby – growers who could feed them in the event of an emergency – will be priced out of business, leading to real nutrition crises if extreme weather cuts off shipping,” Johnson said. “We need growers of all types and sizes to ensure our food system is adequately climate-resilient.”

“This document will be very useful in helping citizens and policymakers understand what we’re up against when we talk about climate change,” said Johnson. “We are grateful for the opportunity to help USGCRP tell the whole story.”

National Farmers Union has been working since 1902 to protect and enhance the economic well-being and quality of life for family farmers, ranchers and rural communities through advocating grassroots-driven policy positions adopted by its membership.