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The farming sector faces national security threats

The Biden administration has released an updated security memorandum, which outlines the threats to the American agricultural system, as well as ways to address them. “To achieve this, the Federal Government will identify and assess threats, vulnerabilities, and impacts from these high-consequence and catastrophic incidents – including but not limited to those presented by CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear) threats, climate change, and cybersecurity – and will prioritize resources to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from the threats and hazards that pose the greatest risk”, reads the document released last month.

The White House touches on an important topic by addressing the unique threats that face the farming sector, and to what extent the American food production system might be threatened by domestic or foreign actions. It addresses for instance, the impacts of toxic industrial chemicals, from a standpoint not only of the effects on humans, but also on the biological realm, which might impact the productivity of farms.

The memorandum comes at a time when supply chain disruptions have shown to consumers just to what extent a food system can destabilize the inner-workings of a country. Case in point, the Russian invasion of Ukraine is not just a military conflict that plays out on the battlefield – it is also a war of food, in which the Russian war machine holds Ukrainian grain exports hostage through its strategic vantage points. Continuous grain deals in the Black Sea have stood on rocky grounds, despite the vital importance for the Ukrainian economy. This war underlines how civilian infrastructure quickly becomes a military target, and how guaranteeing security is not merely about anti-aircraft missiles, but also about protecting strategic industrial elements.

For that reason it is not just laudable that the administration addresses these risks, but also that USDA has been at the forefront of arguing for food security through innovation. The USDA’s Agriculture Innovation Agenda (AIA) advances the notion that more innovation, through public and private research and investment, makes the food system more efficient and sustainable. Compared to the European Union’s approach – which seeks to reduce farm land use and livestock, to the detriment of the European food sector – the AIA takes a forward-looking approach.

The White House touches on an important topic by addressing the unique threats that face the farming sector, and to what extent the American food production system might be threatened by domestic or foreign actions. It addresses for instance, the impacts of toxic industrial chemicals, from a standpoint not only of the effects on humans, but also on the biological realm, which might impact the productivity of farms.

The memorandum comes at a time when supply chain disruptions have shown to consumers just to what extent a food system can destabilize the inner-workings of a country. Case in point, the Russian invasion of Ukraine is not just a military conflict that plays out on the battlefield – it is also a war of food, in which the Russian war machine holds Ukrainian grain exports hostage through its strategic vantage points. Continuous grain deals in the Black Sea have stood on rocky grounds, despite the vital importance for the Ukrainian economy. This war underlines how civilian infrastructure quickly becomes a military target, and how guaranteeing security is not merely about anti-aircraft missiles, but also about protecting strategic industrial elements.

For that reason it is not just laudable that the administration addresses these risks, but also that USDA has been at the forefront of arguing for food security through innovation. The USDA’s Agriculture Innovation Agenda (AIA) advances the notion that more innovation, through public and private research and investment, makes the food system more efficient and sustainable. Compared to the European Union’s approach – which seeks to reduce farm land use and livestock, to the detriment of the European food sector – the AIA takes a forward-looking approach.

Originally published here

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