Plantains growing in Gurabo, Puerto Rico. Photo by Duamed Colón.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack visited the Caribbean Climate Hub in Puerto Rico earlier this month to lead a roundtable discussions with local agricultural officials, farmers and ranchers, USDA agency leaders, economic investors, and scientists, and to view first-hand the Hub’s pioneering work in climate change research, education and outreach.
“Adaptation to climate change is a matter of National Security. We need to have a functional food economy to counter food insecurity,” said Secretary Vilsack during the Climate Hub Roundtable held at the El Yunque National Forest. Local USDA agency leaders expressed concern about the increasing incidence of pests and diseases affecting agriculture and forestry in the Caribbean, mostly related to climate change, and the need for more education and support for water and soil conservation measures. Read more »
Farm to school programs help kids form healthy habits, learn where their food comes from, and develop an understanding of the importance of nutrition and agriculture.
Back in March, we invited you to vote for the school district with your favorite farm to school program – one with exemplary initiatives, inspiring results; one that you think is ‘one in a melon’!
Well, the results were tabulated and one district in each state has just received the “One in a Melon” award. These districts received the most votes from parents, teachers, community stakeholders, students, and others who recognized the incredible work they’re doing through their farm to school programs. We were so inspired by the nominations we received that we wanted to share a few quotes of them with you, but for a full list of award winners, visit https://farmtoschoolcensus.fns.usda.gov/find-your-school-district. Read more »
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 »
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 »
Through USDA Farm Service Agency’s Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), Puerto Rico’s Moises Velez-Santiago has protected his farm’s watershed, improved water quality and enhanced wildlife habitat.
Moises Velez-Santiago understands the important role farming can play in protecting water quality for Puerto Rico’s 3.5 million residents. He’s been farming on the island nearly three decades.
Through the USDA Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), Velez-Santiago has strived to obtain a balance of environmental conservation and crop production. Read more »
Dianilda Rodriguez of GR Management Corp., Arlene Zambrana from USDA Rural Development, and Maria Rodriquez-Collazo of PathStone stand in front of the completed Alturas de Castañer housing complex in Puerto Rico.
In the municipality of Lares, Puerto Rico, lies Alturas de Castañer, a small, mountainous community that is home to 24 agricultores and their families. The agricultores – or farm workers – work hard year-round to produce coffee, bananas, root vegetables and citrus fruits that are then sold in local markets and to area restaurants.
Before coming to the community of Alturas de Castañer, many families lived in cramped conditions, sometimes with two or three other families. Conditions were unsanitary and children were constantly sick. Some homes did not even have roofs, and residents suffered dangerous exposure to the natural elements, including torrential rains during hurricane season. Read more »