Editor’s Note: Writer Ben Lilliston is the director of rural strategies and climate change at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy.
An under-the-radar executive order signed by the Biden administration in late February could have big implications for our food system. Biden’s order called for more “resilient, diverse and secure supply chains” and asked federal departments, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), to submit recommendations to achieve this goal. A deep examination of food supply chains and their current vulnerabilities is long overdue.
The Biden supply chain executive order comes on the heels of a series of food supply chain disruptions during the Covid-19 pandemic and trade fights brought by the Trump administration. Over the last several years, climate-related severe weather events, from hurricanes to wildfires, have hit farmers and supply chains in different parts of the country. The current severe drought in the western part of the country poses an immediate risk. The latest U.S. Drought Monitor reports that 41% of corn, 89% of durum wheat, 86% of spring wheat, 51% of the hog inventory and 63% of dairy cow inventory are in areas experiencing drought.