IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

The vulnerability of the US food system to climate change


  • Laura Lengnick


The climate change vulnerability of a food system is a function of the exposure of the system to specific climate effects, the sensitivity of the system to those effects, and the capacity of the system adapt to those effects in order to maintain system integrity. A synthesis of recent literature conducted to explore the vulnerability of the US food system to climate change suggests that the interaction between regional climate change effects and the geographic specialization and concentration of agricultural production in the USA increases the vulnerability of the US food system to climate change. Vegetable and fruit production in the Pacific states are particularly sensitive to reduced water supplies, warmer winters, and more variable spring weather. Grain production in the Great Plains and the Midwest is sensitive to more variable weather, warmer winters, heat wave, and hot summer nights and flooding caused by more frequent heavy rains. The concentration of beef, pork, and poultry production in confined animal feeding operations located in the southern Great Plains and the Southeast is particularly sensitive to increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather and interruptions in feed, water, and power supplies associated with interactions between land, water, and energy use that amplify climate change effects. There is evidence that climate change is already causing disruptions throughout the US food system. Farmers and ranchers in the US report that increased weather variability and more frequent and intense weather extremes have increased the costs and complexity of food production. Businesses operating in the US agricultural supply, processing, distribution, and retailing sectors are actively managing supply networks to reduce disruptions associated with climate change effects. Food systems that rely on external or distant resources and specialized production, supply, and marketing chains appear to be particularly vulnerable to global environmental change. These characteristics, widely recognized as critical challenges to the sustainability of the US food system, take on new importance as barriers to climate resilience. Copyright AESS 2015

Suggested Citation

  • Laura Lengnick, 2015. "The vulnerability of the US food system to climate change," Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, Springer;Association of Environmental Studies and Sciences, vol. 5(3), pages 348-361, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:jenvss:v:5:y:2015:i:3:p:348-361
    DOI: 10.1007/s13412-015-0290-4

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    File URL:
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Goerner, Sally J. & Lietaer, Bernard & Ulanowicz, Robert E., 2009. "Quantifying economic sustainability: Implications for free-enterprise theory, policy and practice," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(1), pages 76-81, November.
    2. J. Arbuckle & Linda Prokopy & Tonya Haigh & Jon Hobbs & Tricia Knoot & Cody Knutson & Adam Loy & Amber Mase & Jean McGuire & Lois Morton & John Tyndall & Melissa Widhalm, 2013. "Climate change beliefs, concerns, and attitudes toward adaptation and mitigation among farmers in the Midwestern United States," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 117(4), pages 943-950, April.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Gerald Marten & Nurcan Atalan-Helicke, 2015. "Introduction to the Symposium on American Food Resilience (Part 2)," Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, Springer;Association of Environmental Studies and Sciences, vol. 5(4), pages 537-542, December.
    2. Nurcan Helicke, 2015. "Seed exchange networks and food system resilience in the United States," Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, Springer;Association of Environmental Studies and Sciences, vol. 5(4), pages 636-649, December.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Bolaños-Valencia, Ingrid & Villegas-Palacio, Clara & López-Gómez, Connie Paola & Berrouet, Lina & Ruiz, Aura, 2019. "Social perception of risk in socio-ecological systems. A qualitative and quantitative analysis," Ecosystem Services, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 1-1.
    2. Fabien Martinez, 2014. "Corporate strategy and the environment: towards a four-dimensional compatibility model for fostering green management decisions," Post-Print hal-02887618, HAL.
    3. Mark K. McBeth & Donna L. Lybecker & James W. Stoutenborough, 2016. "Do stakeholders analyze their audience? The communication switch and stakeholder personal versus public communication choices," Policy Sciences, Springer;Society of Policy Sciences, vol. 49(4), pages 421-444, December.
    4. Mingqi Zhang & Meirong Su & Weiwei Lu & Chunhua Su, 2015. "An Assessment of the Security of China’s Natural Gas Supply System Using Two Network Models," Energies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(12), pages 1-16, December.
    5. Borrett, Stuart R. & Sheble, Laura & Moody, James & Anway, Evan C., 2018. "Bibliometric review of ecological network analysis: 2010–2016," Ecological Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 382(C), pages 63-82.
    6. Carey W. King, 2016. "Information Theory to Assess Relations Between Energy and Structure of the U.S. Economy Over Time," Biophysical Economics and Resource Quality, Springer, vol. 1(2), pages 1-33, December.
    7. Severen, Christopher & Costello, Christopher & Deschênes, Olivier, 2018. "A Forward-Looking Ricardian Approach: Do land markets capitalize climate change forecasts?," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 89(C), pages 235-254.
    8. Maaz Gardezi & J. Gordon Arbuckle, 2019. "Spatially Representing Vulnerability to Extreme Rain Events Using Midwestern Farmers’ Objective and Perceived Attributes of Adaptive Capacity," Risk Analysis, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 39(1), pages 17-34, January.
    9. Mst Asma Khatun & Shibly Shahrier & Koji Kotani, 2020. "Cooperation and cognition gaps for salinity: A field experiment of information provision," Working Papers SDES-2020-4, Kochi University of Technology, School of Economics and Management, revised Jun 2020.
    10. Rios, Vicente & Gianmoena, Lisa, 2020. "The link between quality of government and regional resilience in Europe," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 42(5), pages 1064-1084.
    11. Booth, Pamela & Walsh, Patrick J. & Stahlmann-Brown, Pike, 2020. "Drought Intensity, Future Expectations, and the Resilience of Climate Beliefs," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 176(C).
    12. Adam Wilke & Lois Morton, 2015. "Climatologists’ patterns of conveying climate science to the agricultural community," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 32(1), pages 99-110, March.
    13. Victor Corral-Verdugo & Marc Yancy Lucas & César Tapia-Fonllem & Anais Ortiz-Valdez, 2020. "Situational factors driving climate change mitigation behaviors: the key role of pro-environmental family," Environment, Development and Sustainability: A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Theory and Practice of Sustainable Development, Springer, vol. 22(8), pages 7269-7285, December.
    14. Menapace, Luisa & Colson, Greg & Raffaell, Roberta, 2014. "Farmers' Climate Change Risk Perceptions: An Application of the Exchangeability Method," 2014 International Congress, August 26-29, 2014, Ljubljana, Slovenia 183086, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
    15. Ali Kharrazi & Brian D. Fath & Harald Katzmair, 2016. "Advancing Empirical Approaches to the Concept of Resilience: A Critical Examination of Panarchy, Ecological Information, and Statistical Evidence," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(9), pages 1-17, September.
    16. Brown, Pike & Walsh, Patrick & Booth, Pam, 2020. "Environmental signalling & expectations of future drought: Evidence from panel data," 2020 Conference (64th), February 12-14, 2020, Perth, Western Australia 305239, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society.
    17. Ye Sun & Tomohiro Akiyama, 2018. "An Empirical Study on Sustainable Agriculture Land Use Right Transfer in the Heihe River Basin," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 10(2), pages 1-13, February.
    18. Tzemi, Domna & Breen, James P., 2016. "Examining Irish farmers’ awareness of climate change and the factors affecting the adoption of an advisory tool for the reduction of GHG emissions," 90th Annual Conference, April 4-6, 2016, Warwick University, Coventry, UK 236331, Agricultural Economics Society.
    19. Zhou, Haibo & Yang, Yi & Chen, Yao & Zhu, Joe, 2018. "Data envelopment analysis application in sustainability: The origins, development and future directions," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 264(1), pages 1-16.
    20. Jiali Huang & Robert E Ulanowicz, 2014. "Ecological Network Analysis for Economic Systems: Growth and Development and Implications for Sustainable Development," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 9(6), pages 1-8, June.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:spr:jenvss:v:5:y:2015:i:3:p:348-361. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Sonal Shukla or Springer Nature Abstracting and Indexing (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.