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Category: Climate Change

National FFA Officers Meet with Secretary Vilsack

National FFA officers meet with Secretary Vilsack at the Agriculture Department on January 15. USDA photo by Tom Witham.

National FFA officers meet with Secretary Vilsack at the Agriculture Department on January 15. USDA photo by Tom Witham.

“We are excited by the challenges you presented to us,” said FFA National Secretary Mitch Bayer at the conclusion of a half-hour meeting of National FFA officers with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack at the USDA Whitten Building earlier this week.

In his meeting with the officers, the Secretary covered a wide range of issues, including the immediate need for a new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill.  When it passes, he said, the National FFA should study provisions that will help young, beginning farmers become established.  He said there will be, he hopes, an easier path to credit and also support for the USDA microloan program, which helps beginning farmers and others buy equipment, rent ground, and buy livestock or supplies at affordable interest rates. The Secretary noted that 70 percent of the world’s farmers are women, and USDA is working to provide greater opportunities to women, Native Americans, Hispanics, African Americans and others who want to farm. Read more »

USDA Updates Multi-year Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan

Many of the USDA programs touch almost every American, every day.  And as concerns grow about climate change, greenhouse gases and depleting natural resources, USDA continues creating opportunities for farmers, ranchers, forest landowners, public land managers and families in rural communities. These opportunities help these stakeholders generate prosperity in innovative, sustainable ways while conserving the Nation’s natural resources and preventing pollution.

USDA is committed to leading by example through fostering a clean energy economy, improving the environment by conducting operations in a sustainable and environmentally responsible manner and complying with environmental laws and regulations. To accomplish this, USDA focuses on the future. The Department recognizes the significance of global climate change and utilizes this knowledge to create and maintain conditions under which people and nature can exist in productive harmony. Read more »

Moving up and Out — These Trees Were Made for Walking

Although birch trees can’t literally walk, warming temperatures are causing a gradual migration of these and other tree and plant species to northern or higher elevation climates. USDA photo.

Although birch trees can’t literally walk, warming temperatures are causing a gradual migration of these and other tree and plant species to northern or higher elevation climates. USDA photo.

With large areas of our planet heating up because of climate change, some trees (and plants) are pulling up roots and heading north, to higher elevations and to cooling climes—well, sort of.

A U.S. Forest Service-led study suggests there are a few dozen tree species in the eastern U.S. that are moving north at an unexpected rate.

“For some plants and trees, moving north is real and their only chance for survival,” said Chris Woodall, a research forester for Northern Research Station and the study’s author. “Our study confirms a link between global warming and forest migration. It’s no longer conjecture.” Read more »

The President’s New Executive Order on Climate Preparedness: Another Step to Support American Agriculture

Today, President Obama established a Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience to advise the Administration on how the Federal Government can respond to the needs of communities facing the impacts of climate change. This is an important step in our shared effort to respond to climate change – and like the President’s broader Climate Action Plan, it will help American agriculture mitigate and adapt to the impacts of a changing climate.

America’s farmers, ranchers and landowners have long been tremendous stewards of our environment. At USDA, we have worked with a record number of producers and landowners over the course of the Obama Administration to help conserve the soil and water, and clean our air – more than half a million over the past four and a half years. Meanwhile, in support of the Climate Action Plan, USDA put forward a series of new policies in June to help agriculture develop new climate solutions in the months and years to come. We have taken steps to create seven new regional climate hubs that will aid in sharing climate information for farmers and ranchers. We released the results of the Rapid Carbon Assessment – the largest-ever survey of soil carbon to help improve research efforts. And our new COMET-Farm tool provides a way for producers to see the impacts conservation practices could have on their land. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: As Conferees Convene, Priorities for a Farm Bill

While rural Americans have already waited too long for passage of a new Food, Farm and Jobs bill, this week brought a promising new development. Conferees from the Senate and House met to begin work on the creation of a bipartisan, long-term Farm Bill. Their work could not be more timely – and they are in the spotlight now more than ever before.

The Farm Bill is crucial to America’s farmers, ranchers and producers. It provides a necessary safety net for producers centered around a strong crop insurance program and a dependable set of disaster assistance programs. The last two years of drought and other weather-related disasters underscores how important that safety net is to keeping producers in business.

The Farm Bill’s importance extends beyond the farm safety net. Read more »

Conservation Innovation Grant Produces Carbon Farming Opportunities in North Dakota

A Missouri Coteau wetland near Bismarck, N.D., in the heart of the Prairie Pothole Region. Credit: Jim Ringelman, Ducks Unlimited, used with permission.

A Missouri Coteau wetland near Bismarck, N.D., in the heart of the Prairie Pothole Region. Credit: Jim Ringelman, Ducks Unlimited, used with permission.

The Prairie Pothole Region of North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana provides sanctuary to millions of nesting waterfowl each summer. With an innovative partnership led by Ducks Unlimited (DU), USDA is helping to provide new opportunities for agricultural producers in the region to sequester carbon while cultivating new revenue streams.

With the help of a grant from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, these partners have created a carbon credit system for private landowners in North Dakota who agree to avoid tillage of grasslands. Grasslands store carbon dioxide, one of the leading greenhouse gases contributing to climate change.

The North Dakota Prairie Pothole project, funded by a USDA Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) of $161,000, provides potential new revenue streams for landowners while avoiding greenhouse gas emissions and increasing carbon sequestration. Read more »