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Category: Climate Change

Champions of Change: Midwest Climate Hub Applauds Three Regional Leaders

Champions of Change group in front of the White House

Champions of Change group in front of the White House.

The White House recently recognized 12 Champions of Change for their leadership in sustainable and climate-smart agriculture. This week we will meet them through their USDA Regional Climate Hub, starting with the Midwest’s Loretta Jaus, Erin Fitzgerald Sexson and Timothy Smith.

USDA’s Midwest Regional Climate Hub works to bring land managers in the Midwest the science and other tools that can help them adapt to changing weather/climate conditions. Many farmers, ranchers and land managers are already leading efforts to develop and demonstrate the value of sustainable agricultural practices that benefit soil, air, and water quality while helping to mitigate climate change by reducing emissions.  Educators and advisors have also been crucial in bringing science-based, sustainable, and climate-informed agricultural practices to the agricultural community. Read more »

Late Blight: A Ripening Issue for Central Pennsylvania Farmers

A hoop house on Tamarack Farm in Spring Mills, PA.

A hoop house on Tamarack Farm in Spring Mills, PA.

Perhaps there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Many farmers in central Pennsylvania would aptly agree to this notion after experiencing above average amounts of rainfall this summer. In fact, rainfall during June and July in central Pennsylvania was more than four inches above average. The high summer temperatures coupled with these increased wet conditions quickly produced ideal habitats for many plant borne diseases. One disease in particular that inflicted dramatic damage upon many local farmers this past summer was late blight. One may recall that this was the plant disease responsible for the Irish Potato Famine back in the mid-nineteenth century. In memory of this historical event, late blight is nothing to take lightly.  Read more »

Southern Plains Climate Hub Helps Land Managers Build Resilience to Climate Variability

 

Wind-devastated farmland in Kansas during the Dust Bowl.
Wind-devastated farmland in Kansas during the Dust Bowl.

The U.S. Southern Plains states have always been known for their wild weather. Stories of the volatile climate of this region abound. Whether you’re talking about Pecos Bill roping a tornado in Texas, Dorothy being blown away by a twister to the Land of Oz, or the Dust Bowl in Oklahoma where “the wind comes sweeping down the plains,” all three of the Southern Plains states have a well-deserved reputation for extreme weather events. Never has this been more on display than in 2015. At the beginning of this year, the states of Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas had suffered through four long years of an extreme drought greater even than those that ravaged the region during the Dust Bowl of the 1930’s. This extreme weather cost agriculture in the region well over $20 billion and put an incredible strain on the available water supplies of numerous communities. Then, in what seemed like the blink of an eye, in a repeat of what has happened so many times in the past, the extreme drought on the Southern Plains was finally broken by extreme rainfall. Read more »

Forest Service Funds Landmark Climate Change Study

Workers replace a culvert with a larger one to accommodate higher water flows on the Colville National Forest (Photo Credit: USFS).

Workers replace a culvert with a larger one to accommodate higher water flows on the Colville National Forest (Photo Credit: USFS).

Preparing for the effects of climate change, the U.S. Forest Service has taken the lead in a new report that highlights actions taken by federal agencies to adapt to a changing climate.

“Some federal agen­cies are making good progress in climate change adaptation,” said University of Washington scientist and lead author Jessica Halofsky. “Most agencies have broad plans that describe approaches and priorities for climate change in general … but on-the-ground projects have been implemented slowly across the country.” Read more »

Helping Farmers Adapt to a Changing Climate through Regional Vulnerability Assessments

Jun. 6, 2014, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Agricultural Research Service (ARS) supervisory plant physiologist Dr. Jerry Hatfield discuss gathering information on climate changes and impacts.

Jun. 6, 2014, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Agricultural Research Service (ARS) supervisory plant physiologist Dr. Jerry Hatfield discuss gathering information on climate changes and impacts.

Just over a year after the establishment of the USDA Climate Hubs, we are keeping our promise of “developing the next generation of climate solutions” through regional vulnerability assessments. By October 2015, eight regional vulnerability assessments will be available on the USDA Climate Hubs website. Read more »

Responding to Oak Wilt and Climate Change on the Menominee Nation Forest

Standing in a disturbed patch of forest, Menominee forester Jeff Grignon looks around and explains, “My role is to regenerate the forest, maintain the forest, create diversity, and look toward the future.” This task is becoming increasingly challenging as growing forest health issues intersect with additional stressors brought about by climate change in the forests of the Menominee Nation and elsewhere.

As a leader in forestry and natural resource conservation, USDA has a long history of working with tribes to address their management issues and concerns. Climate change is an active part of that discussion, and has been increasing through development of the new USDA Regional Climate Hubs. The network of Hubs deliver science-based knowledge, practical information, and program support to help natural resource managers, producers, and landowners make climate-informed decisions and then implement those decisions. Read more »