By Melanie Condon
Seven climate center hubs that will track how the farm and forest industry, specifically, is affected by climate change will be created, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced Wednesday. Not only will the hubs be centers for information gathering, they will also provide farmers, foresters and rural communities with guidance and technical assistance in adapting to extreme weather conditions.
The announcement is part of President Obama’s plan, as laid out in his Climate Action Plan released in June 2013, to address climate change with executive actions and federal initiatives. The president stressed this point again in his State Of The Union speech last week.
The new climate centers will help farmers and the agriculture industry with situations such as when an unprecedented blizzard decimated cattle in South Dakota last October, or the current drought problems that are ruining crops in California. Vilsack also noted in his announcement that the climate hubs will work to turn scientific research into useful information for farmers and ranchers to be able to adjust their resource management.
A collaborative effort, the hubs will link information and resources across not only the agencies within USDA, but also the Department of Interior, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; tribal governments and state departments of environment and agriculture.
The seven Regional Hubs for Risk Adaptation and Mitigation to Climate Change will be located in: Ames, Iowa; Durham, N.H.; Raleigh, N.C.; Fort Collins, Colo.; El Reno, Okla.; Corvallis, Ore.; and Las Cruces, N.M. USDA is also designating three subsidiary hubs that will supplement their regional hubs and focus on a narrower set of issues. These will be located in Davis Calif.; Houghton, Mich.; and Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico.
Melanie Condon is a NCSL policy associate with the Natural Resources and Infrastructure Committee.