USDA forms regional climate hubs

USDA forms regional climate hubs

Seven hubs and three subsidiary hubs across country chosen to help farmers mitigate climate change.

USDA forms regional climate hubs
AGRICULTURE Secretary Tom Vilsack made good on his pledge last summer to create regional climate hubs with the Feb. 5 announcement that the U.S. Department of Agriculture will establish Regional Hubs for Risk Adaptation & Mitigation to Climate Change at seven locations around the country (Map).

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 on ways for farmers, ranchers and forestland owners to adapt and adjust their resource management.

Vilsack said farmers today face a new and more complex threat in the form of a changing and shifting climate, which affects both the nation's forests and farmers' bottom lines. In the Midwest, for example, growing seasons are almost two weeks longer now than in 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 risk 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 like the U.S. Department of Interior and the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, Native Nations and organizations, state departments of environment and agriculture, research centers, farm groups and more.

The Midwest hub will be housed at the Agricultural Research Service's (ARS) National Laboratory for Agriculture & the Environment in Ames, Iowa.

The U.S. Forest Service (FS) will house both the Northeast hub at its Northern Research Station in Durham, N.H., and the Southeast hub at its Southern Research Station in Raleigh, N.C.

The ARS National Resources Center in Ft. 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.

The FS Pacific Research Station in Corvallis, Ore., was chosen to serve the Pacific Northwest.

The ARS Rangeland Management Unit/Jornada Experimental Range in Las Cruces, N.M., will serve as the Southwest hub.

The climate hubs were chosen through a competitive process among USDA facilities. In addition to the seven hubs, USDA is designating three subsidiary hubs that will function within the Southeast, Midwest and Southwest.

The subsidiary hubs will support the climate hubs within their region and focus on a narrow and unique set of issues relative to what goes on in the rest of the hub.

The Southwest subsidiary hub in Davis, Cal., will focus on specialty crops and Southwest forests. The Southeast subsidiary hub in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, will address issues important to the Caribbean. The Midwest subsidiary hub in Houghton, Mich., will address climate change and Lake States forests.

Volume:86 Issue:06

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