USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced the availability of $8.4 million in available funding to study and develop new approaches for the agriculture sector to adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change. The funding is available through NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), which is authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.
“Each year, climate change poses uncertain and varied challenges for American farmers and producers in terms of environmental effects and impacts on agricultural practices and productivity,” said NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy. “This funding will support discoveries to create innovative strategies to adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change on our nation’s agricultural systems, which will be invaluable for American farmers whose livelihoods directly depend on the nation’s land and water resources.”
The goal of the AFRI Agriculture and Natural Resources Science for Climate Variability and Change Challenge Area is to reduce the use of energy, nitrogen, and water, while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Since 2009, more than $150 million in research and Extension grants have been awarded through AFRI in support of efforts to minimize the impacts of climate change.
Within this program, NIFA also will provide funds to design a cadre of community-based volunteers who would be trained to become “climate masters,” whose work will help their communities become better at adapting and becoming resilient to climate change. This effort could connect with state cooperative Extension efforts and support USDA Climate Hubs.
Examples of previously funded projects through this program include an Iowa State University study that examined factors that facilitate or hinder climate adaptation for agriculture, while assessing the role of human-made infrastructure and policies that protect natural resources, grassland, and wetlands. A Penn State University project worked to strengthen farm operators’ capacity to manage cropping system’s adaptation to climate change by providing real-time, online decision-making tools.
Applicants for fiscal year 2016 should focus on how land-use affects and is affected by climate change. Applications are due Nov. 17 for climate and land use projects. Climate masters outreach and Extension applications are due Sept. 14. See the request for applications for more information.
Science funded by AFRI is vital to meeting food, fiber, and fuel demands as the world’s population is projected to exceed 9 billion by 2050 and natural resources are stressed under a changing climate. In addition, AFRI programs help develop new technologies and a workforce that will advance our nutritional security, our energy self-sufficiency, and the health of Americans. The President’s 2017 budget request proposed to fully fund AFRI for $700 million; this amount is the full funding level authorized by Congress when it established AFRI in the 2008 Farm Bill.