Ag Policy Blog

USDA Announces Regional Hubs to Cope with Climate Change

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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At a White House press briefing today, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will announce the creation of regional hubs to work on adaptation and risk mitigation for climate change. The "Climate Hubs" will be at seven locations around the country.

According to USDA, the facilities "will address increasing risks such as fires, invasive pests, devastating floods, and crippling droughts on a regional basis, aiming to translate science and research into information to farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners on ways to adapt and adjust their resource management."

The announcement follows comments by President Obama in his State of the Union speech pledging that the administration will continue to do everything in its power to act on climate change.

“For generations, America's farmers, ranchers and forest landowners have innovated and adapted to challenges. Today, they face a new and more complex threat in the form of a changing and shifting climate, which impacts both our nation's forests and our farmers' bottom lines," Vilsack said. "USDA's Climate Hubs are part of our broad commitment to developing the next generation of climate solutions, so that our agricultural leaders have the modern technologies and tools they need to adapt and succeed in the face of a changing climate."

The Climate Hubs will build on the capacity within USDA to deliver science-based knowledge and practical information to farmers, ranchers and forest landowners to support decision-making related to climate change across the country. Essentially, the hubs will work with extension agents and others to help farmers cope with more volatile weather conditions while protecting the long-term sustainability of the land to produce food, feed and fiber.

As USDA noted, farmers, ranchers and forest landowners are seeing an increase in risks to their operations due to fires, increases in invasive pests, droughts, and floods. For example, in the Midwest, growing seasons have lengthened by almost two weeks since 1950. The fire season is now 60 days longer than it was 30 years ago, and forests will become increasingly threatened by insect outbreaks, fire, drought and storms over the next 50 years. These events threaten our food supply and are costly for producers and rural economies. Drought alone was estimated to cost the U.S. $50 billion from 2011 to 2013. Such risks have implications not only for agricultural producers, but for all Americans.

As USDA stated, the hubs will provide outreach and information to producers on ways to mitigate risks; public education about the risks climate change poses to agriculture, ranchlands and forests; regional climate risk and vulnerability assessments; and centers of climate forecast data and information. They will also link a broad network of partners participating in climate risk adaptation and mitigation, including universities; non-governmental organizations; federal agencies such as the Department of Interior and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; Native Nations and organizations; state departments of environment and agriculture; research centers; farm groups and more.

According to the USDA release, there will be Climate Hubs and other support facilities, or Subsidiary Hubs, "Sub Hubs."

The Sub Hubs will support the Hub within their region and focus on a narrow and unique set of issues relative to what will be going on in the rest of the Hub. The Southwest Sub Hub, located in Davis, California, will focus on specialty crops and Southwest forests, the Southeast Sub Hub will address issues important to the Caribbean, and the Midwest Sub Hub will address climate change and Lake State forests.

The following locations have been selected to serve as their region’s center of climate change information and outreach to mitigate risks to the agricultural sector:

Midwest: National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment, Agricultural Research Service, Ames, Iowa and a Sub-Hub in Houghton, Mich.

Northeast: Northern Research Station, Forest Service, Durham, N.H.

Southeast: Southern Research Station, Forest Service, Raleigh, N.C., with a Sub-Hub in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico

Northern Plains: National Resources Center, Agricultural Research Service, Fort Collins, Colo.

Southern Plains: Grazinglands Research Lab, Agricultural Research Service, El Reno, Okla.

Pacific Northwest: Pacific Northwest Research Station, Forest Service, Corvallis, Ore.

Southwest: Rangeland Management Unit/Jornada Experimental Range, Agricultural Research Service, Las Cruces, N.M., with a Sub-Hub in Davis, Calif.

“This is the next step in USDA's decades of work alongside farmers, ranchers and forest landowners to keep up production in the face of challenges,” Vilsack said. “If we are to be effective in managing the risks from a shifting climate, we'll need to ensure that our managers in the field and our stakeholders have the information they need to succeed. That's why we're bringing all of that information together on a regionally-appropriate basis.”

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2/24/2014 | 9:49 AM CST
Jay, your boy Clinton signed the derivative deregulation back in 1999 and started the ball rolling. Remember that? And do you remember what city and state you are from? Come on back, buddy.
Bonnie Dukowitz
2/13/2014 | 12:03 PM CST
Fascism is described quite well by Gordon, Jay. One can nit-pick the differences, however, usually all are under a Dictatorship of some sort. Now we have Obammaism. That is, whatever turns his crank on a given day.
Jay Mcginnis
2/12/2014 | 6:25 AM CST
So what is it Gordon, Fascism, communism or socialism??? You guys go from one end of the spectrum to the other and doubt if any of you know the difference? So you dream of the days of no government regulation??? Like to go back to the good old Bush days with derivatives and free markets for banks??? Give us the 5000 dow for the market to solve? Just paid my new health insurance premium, $100 less per month,,,, yeah things are real bad under Obama! LOL!!!!
2/6/2014 | 1:44 PM CST
Big business, big farms, big cities in a small area, control of energy, control health care, control of education and a population with poor education that you can convince their problems are caused by someone else. This is the goal of the Obama regime and the elitist he hangs with and considers himself one of. Fascism ,you can own your business, you can own your farm but you had better run it their way or else they will try to ruin you.
2/6/2014 | 11:27 AM CST
More regulations and govt control only promotes big business. This farm bill only promotes that. They want the power in few hands. Agenda 21, that hits it on the nose. Funny how some republicans and democrats say they oppose Agenda 21 but yet vote for bills that promote that agenda. I guess all of the lawmakers are drunk on lobbiest money driving our car signing our writes.
W Kuster
2/6/2014 | 10:15 AM CST
It sure was difficult for the bureaucrats when they had to deal with all those independent minded smaller farmers. It must be wonderful for the bureaucrats to have government control over those large government farm program and insurance dependent farmers. I guess that is what the big government types dream of.
2/5/2014 | 8:49 PM CST
Has anyone heard of "Agenda 21"? This is where the Govnt takes over Agriculture as a whole one piece at a time then tells you what to do and how they want you to farm their farms starting with a nudge then a shove and so on until they smack you hard. Get ready people, it's here!
Bonnie Dukowitz
2/5/2014 | 6:50 PM CST
Is this another Algore mirage?
2/5/2014 | 6:18 PM CST
I suppose they go along with the drone hubs and the czars. Sounds like 60-80's Russia.
GWL 61
2/5/2014 | 4:21 PM CST
We are all part of a dysfunctional society and governmen
2/5/2014 | 1:57 PM CST
Does anyone have any idea who the morons are who thought this goofy scheme up, who do they work for, what organization do they belong to, who will profit from it? I can hardly wait for the explanation from some govt. flunky to start telling all of us what we have to do or else . I am sure govt. has all the solutions.
Raymond Simpkins
2/5/2014 | 8:03 AM CST
You are right Tom, there is no climate change. Most weather records were set 100 or more years ago.Sure we might be warming alittle but if we hadn't we would still be in the ice age.I guess they might just as well throw this money away too, look at the rest of the farm bill.
tom vogel
2/5/2014 | 7:54 AM CST
With all of the Federal and State agencies we have monitoring every aspect of agriculture, the last thing we need are seven regional centers for climate change. This is another example of Washington throwing your money at problems that do not exist. Floods, droughts, hot weather, cold weather, and other calamities have been around since the beginning of time. Let's get back to farming and producing and not micro-managing fantasies coming from Washington.
Bonnie Dukowitz
2/5/2014 | 7:47 AM CST
Another waste! As long as this country is wasting energy hauling little children to pre-pre school, why not teach them to turn off the light switch when leaving a room. But then, how can we expect children be personally responsible when we can get another government program to solve all the worlds problems.
Curt Zingula
2/5/2014 | 7:06 AM CST
In Iowa we already have "outreach and information" - its called The Extension Service and its backed by Iowa State University's expertise on bugs, weather and everything in-between. Don't other states have a program like this? I wonder how much redundancy and government growth we will be getting under the scare of climate change? Too much is my guess!