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New USDA ‘Climate Hubs’ to School Farmers, Ranchers on Climate Change

Step in Obama's Climate Action Plan, without a price tag, will assess risks and then tell landowners "this is how you need to manage."

by
Bridget Johnson

Bio

February 5, 2014 - 5:59 pm

WASHINGTON — President Obama enacted part of his promised Climate Action Plan today with the creation of regional “Climate Hubs” to coordinate a global warming response with farmers, ranchers and owners of forest land.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the seven Regional Hubs for Risk Adaptation and Mitigation to Climate Change “are going to do a risk analysis of crop production and of forestry, in terms of changing climates.”

“It will establish the vulnerabilities that we have in each region of the country. We’ll determine from those vulnerabilities strategies and technologies and steps that can be taken to mitigate the impacts and effects of climate change, as well as adapting to new ways of agriculture,” Vilsack told reporters today at the White House daily briefing. “It will take full advantage of the partnerships that we have with land grant universities, our sister federal agencies, as well as the private and nonprofit sector. And every five years, these climate hubs will be reviewed.”

The USDA, which is overseeing the hubs, said the program is part of Obama’s State of the Union promise “to responsibly cut carbon pollution, slow the effects of climate change and put America on track to a cleaner environment.”

The hubs will be located at the National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment, Agricultural Research Service, Ames, Iowa; Northern Research Station, Forest Service, Durham, N.H.; Southern Research Station, Forest Service, Raleigh N.C.; National Resources Center, Agricultural Research Service, Fort Collins, Colo.; Grazinglands Research Lab, Agricultural Research Service, El Reno, Okla.; Pacific Northwest Research Station, Forest Service, Corvallis, Ore.; and Rangeland Management Unit/Jornada Experimental Range, Agricultural Research Service, Las Cruces, N.M. Substations will be located in Houghton, Mich., Davis, Calif., and Puerto Rico.

“It may come as a surprise to you — it certainly did to me — that 51 percent of the entire land mass of the United States is engaged in either agriculture or forestry. This is a part of our economy that is significant: 16 million people are employed as a result of agriculture, and it represents roughly 5 percent of the gross domestic product,” Vilsack said, adding that recent severe snow storms and the persistent California drought are a “reflection of the changing weather patterns that will, indeed, impact and affect crop production, livestock production, as well as an expansion of pests and diseases and could compromise agriculture and forestry.”

“The president’s been quite insistent in cabinet meetings and in private meetings that he expects his cabinet to be forceful and to act. We can’t wait for congressional action. So pursuant to his Climate Action Plan, we established a number of climate change hubs.”

The USDA said the hubs will “deliver science-based knowledge and practical information to farmers, ranchers and forest landowners to support decision-making related to climate change across the country.”

The program is attributing everything from “fires, increases in invasive pests, droughts, and floods” to the effects of climate change.
“So combined with the new farm bill and the new opportunities it creates, these climate hubs, I think, will equip us to make sure that the 51 percent of the land mass of the United States is protected against changing climates, that allow us to maintain the economic opportunity that agriculture creates in this economy,” Vilsack said.

The Agriculture secretary said the new hubs will be utilizing existing avenues such as the Forest Service and “charging them with a new responsibility… do the assessments, and then identify technologies and practical science-based guidance that will say to farmers, to those who own forested areas, and to the government, this is how you need to manage.”

Vilsack’s examples of how that “management” might work included telling a farmer determined to be at risk from climate impacts “to either adapt and shift to a different crop that they’ve produced or use a different seed technology, biotechnology, whatever they might, to eliminate the risk, or if the risk is not something that can be eliminated, how we mitigate the impact of it.”

As an example of risk factors that will be assessed, he said better forecasting and climate-related disaster planning could have helped livestock producers in the Dakotas. “When that snowstorm hit, it didn’t wipe out just a few animals. It wiped out the entire operation. Nobody anticipated and expected that severe a storm, that early. That’s one impact,” he continued. “…When you take a look at the intensity of the storms that we have seen recently, and the frequency of them, the length of drought, combined with these snowstorms and the subzero weather that we’ve experienced, the combination of all those factors convinces me that the climate is changing, and it’s going to have its impact, and will have its impact, and is having its impact on agriculture and forestry.”

The USDA will be using $120 million already in their budget reserved for climate issues — but Vilsack couldn’t say how much the hubs will exceed that. “It’s difficult to assess precisely how much money will be spent, because it depends on what the risks are and how significant they are and what conservation programs will be used,” he said.

“But I can tell you that it will be a significant investment made in each region of the country, because of the importance of it.”

Bridget Johnson is a career journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.
Top Rated Comments   
No kidding.

"It may come as a surprise to you — it certainly did to me — that 51 percent of the entire land mass of the United States is engaged in either agriculture or forestry." - Vilsack

Obviously our Secretary of Agriculture never had any experience with Agriculture before his appointment. He has probably spent his life in one big city after another, while never looking out airplane windows in flyover country.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well, if there was ever a convincing argument for eliminating the Department of Agriculture, Secretary Vilsack is making it.

If they have the resources to put to this without congressional appropriations, they have too much money and time on their hands.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Soviets were quite intent on pushing Lysenkoism, too.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (49)
All Comments   (49)
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Oh those righties, they so much want fairness for the grid. Lefties yowl endlessly, but I think that we all should focus a bit more on how much we pay in GOVERNMENT INCENTIVES vs taxes taken in for fossil fuels and see if it is the right balance with alternative energy. I'll be the first to admit that I don't know the numbers, but one resolution for 2014 is to work on finding them.

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/12/05/3022271/alec-solar-clean-energy-freeriders/
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
The total agricultural experience of this administration and it's lackys could be printed in 36 pt. bold on the head a of a pin. Sorry boys, book learnin' don't tell ya how to grow something, it might give you a hint but until you actually till the soil, you know nothing.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
Wonder if No Care Obama is sending a C Change advisor to 'outreach' to California.

Specifically, to the actor Paul Rodriguez and the other family farmers who lost their farms and crops due to diversion of water for a minnow and so that Pelosi can spritz her golf course and vineyard.

I would give $ to be there for that meeting. I understand they once supported No Care but have changed their minds now that they have faced reality.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
Expect cattle herds to be "thinned" when they get back to reminding us about how much methane cow farts add to the atmosphere. Thus driving up the price of beef to that of caviar.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
no no no, now its climate change, so that allows to claim anything is badddddd.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
how very Soviet of them.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
... and remember how well that worked for the Soviets. Coming soon to a USSA kollective near you: bread lines, meat lines, dairy lines but no line for cabbage gruel.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
How soon will it be before they go from advising farmers on how to farm - to mandating those farmers do certain things way above and beyond agriculture in the name of saving Mother Gaia?

I predict Victory Gardens are going to make a comeback.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
What would be a sad prediction is
- We all go BIG on our gardens
- The FDA decides its too dangerous
- The Commerce Dept determines it creates too much competition for mega farms (Soros) and shuts all backyard gardens down....oh, wait
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
The have already been doing that for generations. Unless you consider paying farmers to NOT plant crops as legitimate agriculture. That would be like paying people to NOT work and still calling them employed.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
At least the gov isn't burning or burying food while people starve like Cartah did...oh wait....
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
so, after 5 years of watching our country being destroyed by our enemies from within, I have a couple of predictable questions about this latest attack.

1. how many of obama's cronies does this new obomination make rich on the taxpayer's dime?

2. what role does soros and friends play in this obvious farce?

3. how many fed. agencies will need to seize more of our rights to enact this obama-science?

4. how many farmers will be purposely driven out of business in order to reach some more goals set by our choom-choom science guy?

5. how many new fed. regulations will be enacted to enforce this global warming science on our agricultural industry?

6. how many new play toys will all of this buy for 3rd world dictators desperately in need of more handouts as promised by the carbon tax crowd?

7. how does this new internal attack on the u.s. fit into the remaining (3 year) time line needed for our total destruction?

its pretty obvious that if one area of his destruction or another gets bogged down, he takes the offensive on another. ex: obamacare gets bogged down, go to immigration. immigration gets bogged down, attack the energy industry. problems there, attack the farmers. actually, I think he saved the agricultural industry for late in his agenda since it is an area that will be seen reflected throughout the world when food prices skyrocket due to his 'helping hand'.

its amazing how otherwise sane people will continue to allow an undocumented illegal alien destroy our country.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
The points are well said. 30% of the new farm bill went to mega farms including Kennedys, Pelosi and Soros.
I would have left the last sentence off to be more effective but its only a word-smithing suggestion.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
1) Monsanto. "...seed technologies...". When he didn't veto the "Monsanto Protection Act", guaranteeing them they CANNOT be sued & thus making them the 1st company in our history to be federally protected from lawsuits no matter what wrong-doing they engage in, he tipped his hand that Monsanto is his "crony corporation # 1"!! Not sure about 2 - 7, but these will be revealed.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
Of course, Obama hiring the head honcho from Monsato to work at FDA is not related in any form or fashion.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
He is the smartest farmer in the room
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well, if there was ever a convincing argument for eliminating the Department of Agriculture, Secretary Vilsack is making it.

If they have the resources to put to this without congressional appropriations, they have too much money and time on their hands.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
No kidding.

"It may come as a surprise to you — it certainly did to me — that 51 percent of the entire land mass of the United States is engaged in either agriculture or forestry." - Vilsack

Obviously our Secretary of Agriculture never had any experience with Agriculture before his appointment. He has probably spent his life in one big city after another, while never looking out airplane windows in flyover country.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
You mean that peas don't grow in the freezer in the little box that says "Birds Eye" on it? I mean... who knew? Why on earth would we have a Secretary of Agriculture who has no clue that farming uses land? (Yes, I realize that I could have put the question mark after "Agriculture" and been done.)
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
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