Giving Compass' Take:

• Josh Bonifield urges agricultural systems to address the potentially disastrous impact of climate disasters on US agriculture and food supply.

• Who will suffer the most from depleted food supplies in the United States? How can you work to address systemic gaps in the security of food reserves around the United States?

• Learn about the role of philanthropy in supporting US agriculture.

A recent study from Columbia University finds that a severe natural disaster could cause the near-total depletion of the United States’ food reserves. This loss may make the U.S. and other countries more vulnerable to future disasters.

The researchers conclude that 94 percent of the U.S. wheat reserves, held for emergency food supply, would be exhausted. It would also cut wheat exports in half.

Additional findings show that while the reserves are sufficient to fend off food insecurity initially, the U.S. and its trade partners would become extremely vulnerable to a future crisis of any size.

“With more extreme weather due to climate change, it is critical in the short term that we have safety nets in place for farmers and agricultural communities if they experience a sudden loss of crops,” Alison Heslin, PhD, Postdoctoral Research Scientist at Columbia University and Co-author of the study tells Food Tank.

In order to be most effective, Heslin says that reserves should be composed of different crops. “A diverse profile of nutrient sources can serve to decrease risks from production shocks in a particular commodity or a particular region,” Heslin tells Food Tank.

She explains that U.S. reserves are also important for international food security. According to the study, the U.S. is central to the global food trade network, and supplies wheat to over 170 countries that have little to no reserves of their own.

She argues that these countries’ strong reliance on the U.S. makes their food systems vulnerable. To build resilience Heslin tells Food Tank, “Government support in food distribution or food subsidies would be critical to ensure that sufficient, nutritious food is available to all members of the population.”

Read the full article about US food reserves by Josh Bonifield at Food Tank.