Farm production is in crisis in the US as the food and agricultural industry faces record crop failures, a growing food insecurity and severe climate change impacts.
In a recent report by the World Resources Institute, the United States had a net loss of nearly half of the world’s food production capacity in the past five years, with the United Kingdom and Canada losing more than one-third of their production capacity.
The United States has a global agricultural workforce that is about twice the size of the UK’s and Canada’s.
The USDA’s Agricultural Production and Marketing Service (APMS) estimates that the US lost nearly 6 million agricultural jobs during the downturn, which started in 2014 and accelerated in the following years.
According to the APMS, nearly a quarter of the US’s food crop failures were due to weather and climate related factors, with more than half due to food waste.
Many of the largest crop failures involved livestock production, with some farmers even blaming climate change and drought.
The APMS report estimates that between 1.6 and 4.1 million Americans lost their jobs during this downturn, with 6 million of those lost in agriculture.
The number of people in agriculture was the third highest in the nation in 2013, but it was a shrinking percentage of the workforce, with about 2 million fewer workers in agriculture compared to 2013.
Agriculture has historically been a sector that has had higher levels of unemployment than any other industry, but the current downturn is a dramatic departure from that trend.
Between 2009 and 2013, the percentage of people employed in agriculture in the United State more than doubled, from 4.5% to 11.1%.
While the USDA has been monitoring the economic impact of the agricultural downturn, the USDA is also trying to help farmers in the food industry.
In 2016, the Agriculture Department established a Food Recovery Advisory Committee to help coordinate recovery efforts across the industry.
The committee will provide advice on the following:Improving the ability of farmers to recover from crop failuresCommunity engagement in support of recovery effortsImproving and enhancing food processing infrastructureCommunity support for food processing and distributionCommunity support to address the growing demand for organic and non-GMO productsCommunity and local outreach for food industry recovery