First announced last summer, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack made good on his intent to create climate regional hubs with the announcement of establishing Regional Hubs for Risk Adaptation and Mitigation to Climate Change at seven locations around the country.
The “Climate Hubs” 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.
Vilsack said today farmers face a new and more complex threat in the form of a changing and shifting climate, which impacts both the nation’s forest and farmers’ bottom lines. In the Midwest, growing seasons have lengthened by almost two weeks since 1950. Drought alone was estimated to cost the U.S. $50 billion from 2011 to 2013.
"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," 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.”
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.
The Hubs were chosen through a competitive process among USDA facilities. In addition to the seven Hubs, USDA is designating three Subsidiary Hubs (“Sub Hubs”) that will function within the Southeast, Midwest, and Southwest.
The Midwest hub will be housed at the Agricultural Research Service’s National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment in Ames, Iowa. The Northeast hub will be at the Forest Service’s Northern Research Station in Durham, N.H.; and the Southeast hub at the Forest Service’s Southern Research Station in Raleigh, N.C.
ARS’s National Resources Center in Fort Collins, Colo., will serve as the hub for the Northern Plains and the Grazinglands Research Lab in El Reno, Okla., will service the Southern Plains.
In the Pacific Northwest, the Forest Service’s Pacific Research Station in Corvallis, Ore., was chosen. ARS’s Rangeland Management Unit/Jornada Experimental Range will serve as the Southwest hub in Las Cruces, N.M.
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, located in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico will address issues important to the Caribbean, and the Midwest Sub Hub in Houghton, Mich., will address climate change and Lake State forests.