Officially called "Regional Hubs for Risk Adaptation and Mitigation to Climate Change," the program is designed to provide farmers, ranchers and landowners with science-based information on how to mitigate the risks of climate change. Among the topics to be covered by the hubs are fire, invasive species, flood and drought. Officially a program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the hubs also tap the expertise of numerous partners, including universities, government agencies, state governments, tribal organizations, farm groups and non-governmental organizations.
"For generations, America's farmers, ranchers and forest landowners have innovated and adapted to challenges," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said today in a news statement. "Today, they face a new and more complex threat in the form of a changing and shifting climate, which impacts both our nation's forests and our farmers' bottom lines. 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 hubs were first announced in June 2013 as part of a broader vision outlined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide solutions to environmental challenges.
The seven new hubs will divide the country into seven regions: the Pacific Northwest, Southwest, Northern plains, Southern plains, Midwest, Southeast and Northeast. The regional hubs will be located at existing facilities in Ames, Iowa; Durham, N.H.; Raleigh, N.C.; Fort Collins, Colo.; El Reno, Okla.; Corvallis, Ore.; and Las Cruces, N.M. There will be additional "sub-hubs" in Michigan, Puerto Rico and California.
The USDA cites several ongoing problems that the hubs will help to address, including an extended fire season, invasive insects in our nation's forests, and increases in droughts and floods. The agency says drought alone cost the U.S. $50 billion between 2011 and 2013.
"This is the next step in USDA's decades of work alongside farmers, ranchers and forest landowners to keep up production in the face of challenges," Vilsack said. "If we are to be effective in managing the risks from a shifting climate, we'll need to ensure that our managers in the field and our stakeholders have the information they need to succeed. That's why we're bringing all of that information together on a regionally-appropriate basis."
The climate hubs have been initiated under executive order by President Obama and are part of the broader commitment he made during the recent State of the Union address to establish policies to fight climate change.
Related on MNN: