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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 veteran 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 is an NPR contributor and 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.

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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.
1 year ago
1 year 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.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The Soviets were quite intent on pushing Lysenkoism, too.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (46)
All Comments   (46)
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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/
1 year ago
1 year 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.
1 year ago
1 year 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.
1 year ago
1 year 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.
1 year ago
1 year 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.
1 year ago
1 year 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
1 year ago
1 year 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.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
At least the gov isn't burning or burying food while people starve like Cartah did...oh wait....
1 year ago
1 year 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.
1 year ago
1 year 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.
1 year ago
1 year 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.
1 year ago
1 year 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.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
He is the smartest farmer in the room
1 year ago
1 year 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.
1 year ago
1 year 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.
1 year ago
1 year 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.)
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Is there anything the Obama administration can't do?

They fixed all the old problems with getting health insurance by replacing them with a bunch of new problems with getting health insurance.

They fixed all the old problems with the banking industry by printing boatloads of free money. Now, the free money is going away and the stock market will tank.

They fixed messy politics by ignoring the law and ruling by decree.

Now, they are going to fix agriculture by flooding the fields with a bunch of experts who haven't had dirty hands since they played in a sandbox.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
They can't make any sense.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
It is not likely that fossil fuel consumption will be reduced any time soon, in fact it is projected to grow substantially over the next few decades. Clearly, CO2 is a warming agent, and we are getting warmer. We just don't know with precision how fast the warming will take place and to what degree it will be offset by other "natural" factors. In any case, it does make sense to me to try to increase our forested landscape as that is one know and relatively natural way to sequestrate carbon. At some point, as yet unknown we will get so warm that we will realize that we have to do something OR fossil fuel will become so scarce and relatively expensive that alternative energy will have to be seriously developed. I do have confidence in mankind's general ability to adapt to a warmer climate and fuel scarcity, but only when we HAVE to. We don't have to yet, or at least not nearly enough of us are convinced that we have to.
I would like to see the hard figures, though on exactly how much we pay out in subsidies to fossil fuel extractors. It would help me think more clearly about the cost of various energy sources, including nuclear.
I also think that we should begin to consider massive infrastructure pipelines for water transport, pipelines that would dwarf anything that we currently have. When we have floods here vs droughts there, let's use some of our time and money to study and then build ways of mitigating said phenomenon. I would let oil companies build more pipelines, but let's also build MUCH larger ones for water.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Clearly? Really? Would you then explain how CO2 somehow manages to extract 4,000 to 10,000 times more energy than every other gas in the atmosphere in the exact same environment? How does it do that when it's specific heat is lower than most of the other gasses and it's absorption spectra is narrower than H2O... of which there is about 30,000 time more (by mass) in that same atmosphere?

If your CO2 data was correct every time you opened a can of soda outside, the escaping CO2 would suck in all the energy around it and reach temperatures of over 4,000° F. The lowest limit you AGW acolytes put on warming is 2°C and that's supposedly due to 100 ppm of CO2... or less than 1 milligram absorbing enough energy, all by it's lonesome, to heat a mass of 1.29 kg... and that assumes that the emission spectra of CO2 and the absorption spectra of the rest of the atmosphere were perfectly complimentary... and they ain't. The scary sounding "greenhouse gas" garbage means nothing... every gas absorbs, passes and emits energy to some degree. CO2 is NOT SPECIAL and it CANNOT violate the laws of thermodynamics just because you Progressives want it to. The "answer" to global cooling global warming "climate change" always seems to be to implement the teachings of Marx and more government control... what a surprise.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Oh man! Facts, numbers, SCIENCE. The progressives aren't going to like this!

" CO2 is NOT SPECIAL and it CANNOT violate the laws of thermodynamics just because you Progressives want it to."

This really is hard for the progressives/liberals to grasp. They think they can legislate anything, ANYTHING.
Science and agriculture deal with the real world ... the results are what they are and no amount of legislation or government mandates can change that.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Got lost on your way to the Puffington Host site, did you?

In every instance in geological history, it has been conclusively proven that CO2 levels rose only AFTER the planet had already warmed up. Increased CO2 levels are a result, not a cause, of the planet warming up.

To look at a modern day, and far more easily documented example, CO2 emissions have increased dramatically over the past 20 years or so due to third world industrialization - yet any possible warming trend data stopped rising during the mid-1990's.

I'll give you a break and not go into how even that data that was used to back up the idea of rising temperatures prior to the 1990's is suspect except to note that if you put a temperature monitoring station in the middle of a black asphalt covered parking lot next to a hot exhaust vent, then you shouldn't express shock at what kind of temperatures you record....

Anyway, if CO2 were such a massive warming agent as claimed, then we should have seen the predictions of global warming coming to fruition by now - and we haven't.

Instead, 2013 is one of the cooler years on record decades after we were being warned by the chicken littles of the world about their theory of anthropogenic global warming.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
No, 2013 was warm, compared to everything but the blockbusterly HOT 1998. Since 1998 was the hottest year ever, the fact that it has not gotten hotter since then, but leveled off to a lot of very warm years, but NOT ones hotter than 1998, leaves warmists and deniers with both grist and challenges. Should every year be getting hotter as CO2 accumulates? Well it's not, hence the talk of pause and that the heat is going into the oceans or that CO2 is not really a warming agent, blah, blah.
Anyway, try to read carefully and realize that I am not a warmist, but I am not a denier either. Simple logic would tell us that if we are going to take all the carbon in ff that have built up over millions of years and spew it out into the atmosphere that there just might be some serious consequences to our climate. Hey, we "need" ff and will continue to burn them, but I say that we also have to start making some moves to prepare ourselves for a generally warmer WORLD-WIDE climate. We certainly have had a damned cold winter so far in NE, but I can at least grasp the concept that there may be a limited pool of frigid air and when it is in Atlanta it is NOT in Anchorage...and who knows what that means?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Simple logic would tell us that if we are going to take all the carbon in ff that have built up over millions of years and spew it out into the atmosphere that there just might be some serious consequences to our climate"

I think you mean"simpleton" logic.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Personally, I wish we would warm up a bit more. Its -22 degrees right now in Casper, WY.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
" Clearly, CO2 is a warming agent, and we are getting warmer."

Since it is "clearly" then you should have no difficulty citing abundant evidence to support that assertion. Seriously, I challenge you to please enlighten us.

"I also think that "we" should begin to consider massive infrastructure pipelines for water transport, pipelines that would dwarf anything that we currently have."

And just who is the "we" that you refer to? Will it be the private pipeline companies that now exist tasked with doing so in response to market demand? Surely, you don't suggest that this is to be accomplished by government wizards ..... maybe the same bunch that performed the Boston "Big Dig"?

" At some point, as yet unknown we will get so warm that we will realize that we have to do something ...........".

It has been estimated that the earth will be consumed by the sun in about 5 billion years. Is that the event that you refer to? Don't you think that it would be nice to have some idea when all of this is to occur before we launch dramatic efforts to gird against such an circumstance? Just askin'.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
CO2 is a greenhouse gas, so all things being equal (which they never are) more CO2 in the atmosphere (or oceans) means more heat being trapped. Now it seems to me that said phenomenon will generate more rain overall, a good thing, but if it comes in the boom-bust patterns to exacerbate both flooding and drought, then we will have to respond to that.
The huge pipeline probably have to be government inspired, because the farmers, who would benefit by the added water do not have the ready cash to build them, whereas the ff companies DO have the funds to pay for their own pipelines. Think of the water pipelines as an extension of the Eisenhauer inspired interstate highway system, which we now take for granted.
As to WHEN, well that is the many trillion dollar question. Warmists can cite chapter and verse to show you that it is right now, but it will have to be market inspired, as when droughts get bad enough to seriously impact food prices across the board. We already know that unless California gets a lot of rain in the next several weeks, that there will be no water for the many thousands of acres of fields around Sacramento. VDH has already described the water "shortages" albeit environmentally inspired, which have idled a lot of fields in his neck of California.
I will grant you that moving water in the amounts you need to move it is exponentially more difficult than moving oil in the amounts you need to move it, but can man create an inland Northwest passage that actually would get Lewis and Clark in their canoes (or submarines) all the way to the headwaters of the Columbia? Maybe we can't go that far in the foreseeable future, but such projects would seem to be worth considering. They would provide work and like the interstates, produce something useful. Puttering with the interstate commerce of water is clearly constitutional, right?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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