The U.S. Department of Agriculture has launched a new website designed to provide practical information to farmers, ranchers and landowners dealing with the effects of climate change across the country.
USDA announced its “Climate Hubs” earlier this year. The hubs divide the country into regions, each with distinct challenges posed by the changing climate. And now, the project’s website provides a one-stop shop for tools created by USDA and other agencies to help land managers with climate change-related risk management.
“We want to enable land managers to make wise decisions when it comes to climate-related risk,” said Randy Johnson, who’s the national leader for the Climate Hubs. “That means, ‘How do I handle drought?’ ‘How do I handle extreme events?’ ‘Should I be doing something different now that growing seasons are beginning to change?’”
Right now, the website brings together information and tools created by various agencies that could help land managers with beginning to plan for these changes, Johnson said. Eventually, USDA will develop additional tools to help the process, but for the moment it makes sense to use and aggregate what’s already out there.
“Because this is the first step,” he said. “We have to know where the gaps are. If there’s already a tool that can adequately address a certain vulnerability for a certain crop somewhere, we don’t need to make it again.”
Kentucky is in the Southeast Climate Hub; the USDA estimates the future climate change-related challenges here include different insect pests, changes in precipitation and extreme temperatures.