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USDA is Acting on Climate and We Have a Plan

Posted by William Hohenstein, Director, USDA Climate Change Program Office in
Feb 21, 2017
Soybeans show the effect of the Texas drought near Navasota, TX on Aug. 21, 2013. USDA photo by Bob Nichols.
Soybeans show the effect of the Texas drought near Navasota, TX on Aug. 21, 2013. USDA photo by Bob Nichols.

We know that there are climate change risks and vulnerabilities facing agriculture that have significant implications not just for farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners, but for all Americans and the world. That’s why we are working on measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for climate change impacts such as flooding, sea level rise, severe weather and temperature extremes.

Today’s release of the USDA Sustainability Plans and Climate Change Adaptation Plans coincide with the fifth anniversary of President Obama’s 2009 Executive Order on Environmental, Energy and Economic Performance, which set aggressive energy, climate and environmental targets for agencies, and detail how USDA’s actions have already contributed to reducing the Federal Government’s greenhouse gas emissions by more than 17 percent since 2008 – the equivalent of permanently taking 1.8 million cars off the road.

USDA’s strategic plan provides a foundation for climate change adaptation planning and presents detailed actions that will be taken across the Department. Over the past year, eleven USDA agencies and offices also developed detailed plans to address growing risks from climate change and climate variability.  Each Agency identified risks and specific actions and steps they could take to build their agency’s resilience to climate change.  Meanwhile, USDA has already taken a number of steps to reduce climate risks, including:

  • Launching of Regional Climate Hubs to provide technical support, assessments and regional forecasts and outreach and education to stakeholders at the regional and local levels;
  • Assisting crop insurance services by introducing new online tools and data that streamline the response to climate change impacts on crop production;
  • Establishing new guidance on forest planning that includes consideration of the impacts of climate change.  Eleven national forest management plans are currently being revised;
  • Expanding the adoption of conservation practices that increase resilience to climate variability;
  • Restoring national forests and grasslands (2.5 million acres in 2013) to make them more resilient and to maintain function, productivity, and adaptive capacity.
  • Helping rural communities maintain local watersheds and reduce the impacts of extreme precipitation and drought by rejuvenating flood control dams.

The Department is modernizing federal programs to support climate resilient investments including enhanced energy efficiency and conservation loan programs.  We are also working with partners to develop and provide easily accessible, usable, and timely data, information and decision-support tools on climate preparedness and resilience. Some of these include educational courses, inventory and monitoring systems, greenhouse gas protocols and mitigation options, and the USDA Greenhouse Gas Inventory – all designed to help farmers, ranchers and rural business owners make smart, data-driven decisions about their businesses.

USDA is working across our agencies to help mitigate the impacts of climate change while also making sure that our Nation’s farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners are ready to adapt to the challenges it will pose. You can read more about USDA’s climate solutions on our website:

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Royal Rife
Nov 04, 2014

I read a hypothesis somewhere that suggested the past 400 years in the American southwest were a "wet" period and we are now entering a dry part of the cycle. Though I agree to the possibility of human activity influencing the climate, I don't believe there is any guarantee that the climate will remain steady century after century. One big volcano.....
Also, what troubles me more than climate is the proliferation of chemical, nuclear and EM radiation and the resultant 1/3 people getting cancer nowadays.

Nov 05, 2014

The climate plan needs to be heavily weighted with "Soil Health" conservation methods. Just looking at the soybean field in this picture, field has been tilled, lack diversity, no cover (bare soil), all ingredients for the perfect storm for crop disaster.

Mona Lee Buchanan
Nov 05, 2014

Hello, I am in the mortgage industry regarding these USDA Loans No $ Down, Are there regulations to actually farm the land with agricultural & livestock. Just suggesting maybe including in the loans, a little start off $boost to include seeds, livestock etc. however their plan to contribute to agricultural growth for the economy? The plan they have does it matter? Have a good day! GOD BLESS!

Hermann Lima
Nov 12, 2014

Good afternoon. I study agro beusiness and work in big farm here in Brasil, and i´d like information about new technology in agriculture from United States.
Thankyou, and wait answuer.
Hermann Lima

Raymond Poole
Nov 19, 2014

Yes the climate is changing even onthe east coast.I do landscaping at time and have tested or used my own yard as a measuring tool.We are still and have been heating up the earth for to long even from the oil drilling days. We are taking too much out of the earth and are disturbing the core of the earth, they stop drilling for oil in Texas a while back because the well went dry and moved into developing which still meant drilling and now we have fracking, some want to mine for uranium. Well my yard is not that big but I measure when to call people about yard manicuring by it.In the last 7 years at first it was a sure thing almost every 10 days my customers would be needing their yards trimmed within that time it has went up to almost from 10 -20 days and that is with raining maybe 4 different days at least and if no rain you could notice the hardening of the soil. Now my own yard would need cutting still in the same 10 day period only becuase of my watering and even after cutting I would have to water it becuase the earth core has been heating up so much that the grass would begin to dry and the soil turn harder. Test your memory if your are a outdoor person like whe the grass use to soak up water and leave the ground soggy enough so you could stick a pole or citronella holder in the ground after it rain two day before not anymore you will meet resistance because that water is draining and not retained.With all this drilling the shifting of foundations making samller sink holes are say deteriating the bonding of what is in the earth. We have been taking the earth for granted for to long/ I used to hear that the Native American's used to tell us how to take care of the land and preserve it we need to go back to that thinking for a while. If you need a example ask the park ranger at Fort Dupont in D.C how long it takes for the garden to dry up over there after two day of non stop rainning in the summer they will probbaly say one to two days.