Photo: Ned Wood began a life long dream of ranching and he now leads a thriving family business that has endured and will improve the lives of hundreds of his cows, calves and yearlings that graze the approximately 4,000 acres of drought stricken range land in the 6,255 acre East Bay Regional Park District’s Briones Regional Park in Contra Costa County, CA. Image: USDA Results Badge.
USDA is bringing tools and solutions to farmers, foresters and ranchers so they have help confronting climate change while working to produce a global food supply adequate to feed the 9 billion people estimated by 2040 while still protecting the earth’s natural resources.
Today, USDA is launching the fifth chapter of USDA Results, telling the story of how USDA has been working since 2009 with partners across the country and around the world to curb the effects of climate change for a healthier tomorrow. Throughout May, we will be announcing new projects and highlight the progress we’ve made under Secretary Vilsack’s leadership, which has made this issue one of his top priorities. Here in the Climate Change Program Office and in Agencies across the Department, we have been busy. Read more »
Dr. Guillermo Ortiz of the University of Puerto Rico and rancher Neftali Lluch of the Lajas Valley in Puerto Rico discuss various practical steps to combat rising temperatures and prolonged drought. Photo credit: University of Puerto Rico
We are living in historic moments in the world’s response to climate change. Last December in Paris, delegates from 196 countries signed an agreement to work towards curtailing greenhouse gas emissions and to keep global warming to “well below” 2 °C degrees. This is a big step, but there is still much work to be done and the agricultural sector has an important role to play. Agriculture, forestry, and land degradation contribute just under a quarter of anthropogenic GHG emissions, mainly from deforestation and agricultural emissions from livestock, soil and nutrient management. Climate change also poses a great challenge for food security and nutrition. It can reduce yields and affect where and how food is produced. As the risks of natural disasters increase, farmers need to modify how they produce food in order to become more resilient to prolonged droughts, excessive rains, floods, and more intense storms. Read more »
Ice weighs down power lines in Oklahoma following winter storm Goliath. Photo credit: The Oklahoma Association of Electric Co-ops
Now that the ice has finally melted and most of us have our power back on, it’s time to start evaluating the effect of the mega winter storm that screamed through the Southern Plains right after Christmas.
As a brief recap, winter storm Goliath hit the Southern Plains on December 26 through 28 leaving in its wake record snow fall in parts of Texas, power outages from ice accumulations of over one inch in parts of Oklahoma, and freezing rain and sleet in Kansas. Record flooding occurred throughout the Southern Plains making December 2015 the wettest on record for most of the region. It’s been estimated that over 40 people were killed by this storm (many coming from the Southern Plains region), making it the deadliest weather system recorded in 2015. The storm spawned 24 tornadoes, numerous flooding events, and left hundreds of thousands without power. Read more »
Longleaf pine plantations of trees approximately 25 years old have received their first commercial thinning on the Conecuh National Forest. Photo credit: Jim Guldin, US Forest Service
Drought, especially prolonged or severe drought, can be a major stress in forest ecosystems. Drought can kill trees directly or indirectly through insect attack or wildfire. Both of which are more likely to occur during drought.
Tree mortality impacts most of the ecosystem services provided by forests, including the amount of wood that grows, how much carbon is captured and stored, the health of critical wildlife habitat, water yield and quality, and even whether it’s safe to pursue recreational activities such as hiking or hunting. Read more »
U.S. Drought Monitor Drought Assessment map
Drought patterns have always fluctuated and are expected to become increasingly dynamic in the years to come, making managing working lands profitably more of a challenge. Because specific actions for building resilience to drought vary with location and forest type, USDA is helping land managers connect with experts and find region-specific information and tools through the USDA Climate Hubs.
Recent historical drought events vary from region to region, with the western U.S. showing a trend toward dry conditions while trends in the East are more complex. So how can land managers mitigate the impacts of drought on their lands? Read more »
Drew (left) and Joan Norman (center), One Straw Farm and, Catherine Webb (right) of Springfield Farm shared stories and insights about their operations after a farm to table lunch at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Chesapeake Bay Field Office on October 27th, 2015.
As the autumn leaves in the Northeast were just beginning to blanket the ground in late October, the USDA Northeast Climate Hub held its first annual –university network hosted– Partner Operational Discussions. The group convened in Annapolis, Maryland where working meetings were held at both the Chesapeake Bay Program and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Chesapeake Bay Field Office on October 26th and 27th, 2015. On the second day, after much conversation, assorted presentations and a locally sourced farm-to-table lunch from A Cook’s Cafe, the group took a step back to listen to those whose daily work has dictated the very mission of the USDA Climate Hubs: farmers. Maryland-rooted farm operators, Drew and Joan Norman of One Straw Farm and Catherine Webb of Springfield Farm, formed a panel with moderators Joana Chan and Allison Chatrchyan of the Cornell Institute for Climate Change & Agriculture. Together they chatted about their operations, experiences with extreme weather events, practices and information needs. Read more »