Agriculture Sec. Tom Vilsack announced $6 million in grants Tuesday — Earth Day — to 10 universities for the study of the effects of climate change on agriculture production.
According to Vilsack, climate change is already having an effect on agriculture in the United States.
“With longer growing seasons and an increased number of extreme weather events, climate-related changes are increasingly posing new challenges and risks for America’s producers,” Vilsack said Tuesday.
USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) grants are said to be aimed at not just getting a better understanding of what climate change is doing to agriculture production, but also at developing ways farmers and ranchers can confront it.
“Every day, farmers and ranchers see the impact that changes in climate patterns have on their operations, and they are contending with drought, floods or extreme temperatures,” Vilsack added. “The discoveries these grants will lead to will be invaluable for American farmers whose livelihoods directly depend on the nation’s land and water resources.”
Vilsack made the announcement at Drake University in Iowa, more than a thousand miles from USDA headquarters in Washington, DC.
Meanwhile, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency is also out raising awareness about climate change. Sec. Gina McCarthy however is currently under fire for her polluting, prolific travel this Earth Week.
The 10 schools that are receiving grants include:
University of Colorado, Boulder, Colo., $900,000 – This study will provide an integrated social and biophysical assessment of vulnerability and adaptation to climate change and variability in the Blue Mountains ecoregion of Oregon.
Florida International University, Miami, Fla., $250,000 – This project will study the mechanism of Ochratoxin-A toxicity in wine-musts (freshly pressed grape juice for wine making) which is predicted to intensify in winemaking regions because of the increased prevalence of the toxin producing fungi in warmer climates, and create an inexpensive and simple method of detoxification.
Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, $550,000 – The goal of this research is to examine factors that either facilitate or hinder climate adaptation, while assessing the role of human-made infrastructure and policies that protect natural resources, grassland and wetlands. .
Michigan State University, East Lansing, Mich., $975,000 – This project will seek to define the effects of hot and cold temperatures on turkey growth and development and develop management practices to mitigate these effects.
University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minn., $25,000 – This is a conference grant to support the National Extension Climate Science Initiative Conference, which will empower Extension professionals and collaborators with the latest in climate science research and delivery methods.
Montana State University, Bozeman, Mont., $800,000 – This project will determine what effects a climate-induced rise in water temperature will have on rainbow trout gut microbial communities and fish metabolism.
Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., $600,000 – This project will evaluate the resiliency of rice production with increasing climate uncertainty by developing models integrating historical rice yield data at the county and farm level, weather variables, and genotypic parameters.
Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Okla., $1,000,000 – The project will provide some of the first climate adaptation tools for beef production systems in the form of water management resources and lead to the development of beef cattle that are adaptable to climate change induced drought.
Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pa., $750,000 – This project aims to strengthen farm operators’ capacity to manage cropping system’s adaptation to climate change by providing real time online decision making tools.
West Virginia University, Morgantown, W.V., $150,000 – This project will study the effect of climate change on interactions among solitary pollinator bees, bee parasites and crops.