The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced today a $9 million investment in new Cooperative Extension and USDA Climate Hubs partnerships to bolster climate research and connect and share climate-smart solutions directly with the agricultural community.
“The Cooperative Extension system and the USDA Climate Hubs have unmatched capacity to reach agricultural, Tribal and underserved communities, as well as educators and students, and our nation’s farmers directly,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says. “This partnership will strengthen climate research efforts and accelerate the development, adoption and application of science-based, climate-smart practices that benefit everyone.”
This investment is part of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), the nation’s leading competitive grants program for agricultural sciences. This new AFRI program area offers effective, translatable, and scalable solutions to climate change through regional partnerships, such as the USDA Climate Hubs. It also extends outreach through organizations like the Cooperative Extension Service.
“These new NIFA-funded projects will work toward net-zero emissions in agriculture, working lands and communities adapted to climate change, training a diverse workforce that can communicate and incorporate climate considerations into management and climate justice that is appropriate for unique U.S. agronomic conditions,” NIFA Director Dr. Carrie Castille says.
The initial six funded projects include:
- University of California (Davis) will develop multifaceted pathways with the California Climate Hub to climate-smart agriculture through stakeholder needs assessments, climate-smart agriculture trainings for technical service providers, regional workshops for farmers and ranchers, and student education with Extension service-learning opportunities. This integrated proposal focuses on the development and delivery of participatory programs through a large network of collaborators, supporters, and stakeholders. ($1,500,000)
- Pennsylvania State University will create an education program to help private forests adapt and mitigate climate change, prepare minority owners to take advantage of carbon market opportunities, and prepare the forestry extension workforce to better serve their clients in forest carbon and climate issues, in collaboration with the Northern Forests and Southeast Climate Hubs. ($1,500,000)
- Montana State University will collaborate with the Southwest and Northern Plains Climate Hub staff and regional education and extension stakeholders to develop improved educational materials, modes of communication, and issue expertise that will help in assisting farmers and ranchers to better assess the sources of past crop and livestock production losses due to weather and climate disruption, as well as explore future projections for these causes of loss. ($1,500,000)
- Ohio State University is partnering with the Midwest Climate Hub and multiple universities to increase Midwest adoption of regionally scalable climate-smart activities. The project will improve shared understanding of needs of the Midwest’s diverse stakeholders, develop shared roadmaps for livestock and cropping systems, elevate perspectives and voices of historically underserved communities including black and indigenous communities, and strengthen climate science infrastructure through a re-imagined Extension-Midwest Climate Hub partnership. ($1,500,000)
- The Desert Research Institute Native Climate (Reno, Nevada) project team will strengthen the role of USDA Climate Hubs in Indian country by enhancing Native agroecosystem resilience through expansion of climate services and outreach in the Southwest and Northern Plains Climate Hub regions. Activities are designed to foster trust among Climate Hubs and Native farmers and ranchers as well as resource managers. They will share culturally-appropriate information in an equitable manner, putting community at centre of solutions for climate change, food and nutrition security. ($1,500,000)
- The USDA Caribbean Climate Hub is partnering with minority-serving universities, including the University of Puerto Rico and the University of the Virgin Islands Extension, and non-profits to help historically underserved communities throughout the U.S. Caribbean and other coastal areas adapt to a rapidly changing climate and extreme weather events. They will create education and Extension programs that aim to increase climate literacy and help land managers use climate-smart agriculture, forestry techniques. Spanish and English versions of educational materials will be made. ($1,500,000)
Congress established AFRI in the 2008 Farm Bill. It was reauthorized in 2018 Farm Bill.
The program was re-authorized to continue at $700 million per year. The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 funded AFRI at $435 millions.
NIFA provides AFRI grants for research, education, and extension activities in six priority areas of Farm Bill: plant and animal health and production, animal health and products, food safety, nutrition, bioenergy, natural resources and the environment; agriculture systems, technology; and agricultural economics and rural community. Learn more about AFRI.
USDA Climate Hubs background
USDA’s Climate Hubs are a unique collaboration across the Department’s agencies. They are led and supported by the Agricultural Research Service and Forest Service at 10 regional locations. Contributions from other USDA agencies, such as the Natural Resources Conservation Service and Farm Service Agency, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the Risk Management Agency, also help.
Climate Hubs connect USDA research agencies and program agencies in their area with timely and authoritative information for agricultural professionals and producers.
Source: Successful Farming