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Posts tagged: drought

Climate Change and Agriculture in the Americas

Plantains growing in Gurabo, Puerto Rico

Plantains growing in Gurabo, Puerto Rico, where farmer Duamed Colón is using a legume cover crop (Canavalia ensiformis) to increase organic matter, improve soil health, and reduce erosion and herbicide use. Colón is collaborating with the Caribbean Hub to educate other farmers on sustainable land management practices for climate change adaptation and mitigation through the ADAPTA project. Photo by Duamed Colón.

All this month we will be taking a look at what a changing climate means to Agriculture. The ten regional USDA Climate Hubs were established to synthesize and translate climate science and research into easily understood products and tools that land managers can use to make climate-informed decisions. The Hubs work at the regional level with an extensive network of trusted USDA agency partners, technical service providers, University collaborators, and private sector advisers to ensure they have the information they need to respond to producers that are dealing with the effects of a variable climate. 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.

The effects of climate change are putting farmers throughout the Latin American Caribbean to the test.  From Guatemala to Puerto Rico, rising global temperatures and powerful El Niño oscillations have contributed to patterns of drought and intense rainfall, resulting in crop losses.

In response to these and future crises, the USDA Caribbean Climate Hub in Puerto Rico is helping build more resilient food systems by educating about climate change risks and adaptation and mitigation strategies.  Established in 2014, the Caribbean Hub was as a part of a nationwide U.S. network designed to help farmers and managers of working lands adapt to increasing climate risk by translating climate science into workable decision support tools and information for farmers and land managers. Read more »

For Ethiopian Schoolchildren, McGovern-Dole Helps Mitigate Effects of Devastating Drought

A parent volunteer using USDA-supplied corn-soy blend to prepare a nutritious porridge

A parent volunteer uses USDA-supplied corn-soy blend to prepare a nutritious porridge for school children in eastern Ethiopia.

With Ethiopia facing its most devastating drought in decades, a school feeding project supported by the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program is providing sustenance to vulnerable children and families in some of the country’s hardest-hit areas.

USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) and the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) are partnering to provide meals to 263,000 children in the Afar and Somali regions of eastern Ethiopia. As the only international donors offering school feeding in those areas, FAS and WFP are currently serving an estimated 20 percent of all Afar and Somali schoolchildren. Read more »

Public-Private Partnerships a Crucial Element in Crop Insurance Safety Net

Corn in Iowa

Corn in Iowa was among the crops across the nation hit hard by the 2012 drought. The rapid response by crop insurance companies to that crisis demonstrated why public-private partnerships are good for today’s agricultural economy.

Farming is in my blood, and I’m proud of that. I grew up on my family’s sheep ranch in northern Utah and managed our raspberry farm before coming to USDA. For the past three years, as Administrator for the Department’s Risk Management Agency (RMA), I’ve sat across the table and listened to producers who, like myself back in Utah, couldn’t find an insurance product for their operation.

Natural disasters and unexpected events make agriculture a risky business, so having a strong safety net is essential for today’s farmers and ranchers. Nobody knows that better than RMA. Read more »

Managing Forests in the Face of Drought – There is Help!

Forests on the Conecuh National Forest

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 »

Giant Sequoia Trees Face “Drying” Times

U.C. Berkeley biologists Cameron Williams and Rikke Naesborg measuring the trunk diameter of a giant sequoia

U.C. Berkeley biologists Cameron Williams and Rikke Naesborg measure the trunk diameter of a giant sequoia in Giant Forest, Sequoia National Park. Photo credit: Anthony R. Ambrose

“A mature Giant Sequoia can use 500-800 gallons of water every day during the summer,” said Anthony Ambrose, a tree biologist at U.C. Berkeley. “That’s a lot of water necessary for just one tree.”

For the first time in at least 125 years, Giant Sequoias in the southern Sierra Nevada Mountains of California are showing significant amounts of “dieback” in their foliage due to several years of drought. Read more »

New Report, USDA Climate Hubs Offer Help to Address Forest Drought in the U.S.

U.S. Drought Monitor Drought Assessment map

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 »