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Secretary’s Column: The Benefits of a Climate Action Plan for Rural America

This week, folks across the nation have come together with family and friends to celebrate America’s independence – and millions are enjoying the great outdoors.

That’s why this is an appropriate time to remember that we must protect America’s natural treasures for generations to come. A changing climate poses new threats to this goal – from an increased risk of severe wildfire, to more intense storms, to worse problems from invasive pests.

Last week, President Obama outlined a Climate Action Plan to responsibly cut carbon pollution, slow the effects of climate change and put us on track to a cleaner environment.

We’ve already started making progress toward these goals. Carbon pollution from the energy sector fell to the lowest level in two decades last year, thanks in part to renewable energy from rural America.

But we can and must do more. The President’s plan will apply new efficiency standards for energy creation.  It will expand permits for renewable energy, like wind and solar, on public lands – while supporting the creation of biofuel across the countryside. It also calls for partnership with the auto industry to develop cleaner vehicles that will save folks money.

Even with these steps, we know that climate change can’t be reversed overnight. That’s why the President’s plan will help America prepare for the impacts of a changing climate. For us at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, that includes helping farmers, ranchers and producers adapt to new challenges and create modern solutions.

In recent weeks, USDA has announced the creation of seven new “regional climate hubs” to provide farmers and ranchers with regionally-appropriate information to adapt to climate change. To help researchers and scientists, we’ve opened up data from the largest soil carbon survey ever undertaken, the Rapid Carbon Assessment. And through our online “COMET-FARM” tool, farmers and ranchers can see how conservation practices can help their operation, while protecting the environment.

Additional information about all of these efforts is available at

Rural Americans have a long history of innovation, and a strong commitment to conservation. These efforts are more important than ever as we face the challenges posed by a changing climate. At USDA, we’ll support producers in adapting to new threats, while helping rural America innovate to lead the world against this modern challenge.

The audio version of this column is available on the July 2 USDA Radio Newsline.

5 Responses to “Secretary’s Column: The Benefits of a Climate Action Plan for Rural America”

  1. kirk nevin says:

    We have just purchased a farm in the central Willamette Valley in Oregon (near Tangent). We’re interested in being fossil-fuel free, which means using wind and electricity (both solar sources) to accomplish our energy needs.
    Are there federal programs designed to help us learn more about potential sources of information (and, ultimately, funding assistance) concerning energy independence?

    Kirk Nevin
    Wild Earth Family Farm
    Tangent, Oregon

  2. Dusty Trails says:

    Mr. Nevin,

    Try information at this link for a start:

  3. David Frogel says:

    Here in VA we are losing hemlocks to this blue fungus like infection and we have asian hornets. The hornets eat honey bees and can wipe out an entire hive. Are these two things something i should worry about?

  4. Patti Jo Edwards says:

    You don’t mention GeoEngineering in this article. The more than 40 patents that can be found and read on the Internet and the chem trails criss-crossing our skies made of aluminum oxide, barium and strontium are becoming more widely known and are certainly NOT the answer. Beyond the cost in the billions of dollars, there is the health and environmental concern of aluminum oxide poisoning. We also do not want more fuel efficient cars. We want electric cars and solar highways. GMO corn, canola, sugar beets and soy are poison. The answer is organic, small farms, raw milk and community.

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