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Hurricanes, Wildfires, Tornadoes, Oh My!   

Guest Author
Derecka Alexander, American Association for the Advancement of Science Policy Fellow

The increase in the intensity and frequency of extreme weather-related disasters across the country may have many of us wishing we could click our heels and go back to times when weather did not disrupt our agricultural, forestry and rangeland production systems as often as it does today.

In addition to their devastating impacts on people and communities, disasters contribute to land degradation and adversely impact agricultural supply chains at the production, processing, distribution and consumption stages. 

In response to extreme temperatures, heavy downpours, droughts and blizzards, USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is introducing a new program to help communities protect the nation’s food supply.

The Rapid Response to Extreme Weather Events Across Food and Agricultural Systems program reflects a new cross-cutting program area within NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI). The program is housed within AFRI’s Foundational and Applied Science program and is designed to rapidly deploy strategies, and fill knowledge and information gaps to protect the nation’s food and agricultural supply chains — at the production through consumption stages — during and after extreme weather disasters. Disasters happen when a community is not appropriately resourced or organized to withstand the impact, and whose population is vulnerable because of poverty, exclusion or socially disadvantaged in some way, according to United National Office for Risk Reduction official Mami Mizutori.

The new program area contains two grant types: Strengthening Standard, and Coordinated Agricultural Project. Project proposals for either grant type will directly address effects associated with an extreme weather event or disaster that has occurred. In addition, applications will present projects that address one or more of the following emphasis areas:

  • Agroecosystem Resilience
  • Agricultural Commodity and Nutrition Security
  • Health, Well-Being and Safety

The intention of the Rapid Response to Extreme Weather Events Across Food and Agricultural Systems program is to fund projects that provide solutions, which may include trainings, communication strategies, tools and technologies, food supply logistics, and climate-smart practices that can be rapidly adopted by various end-users. These projects will also explain how adoption potential of proposed solutions will be measured.

NIFA is committed to alleviating the impacts of extreme weather events and disasters across the food and agricultural system. NIFA understands the importance of supporting timely, critical research and Extension activities following extreme weather events and disasters. 

For more information, or if you have any questions about this new program area priority, please visit AFRI Foundational and Applied Science RFA or send an email to afri-rapidresponse@usda.gov. Please check NIFA’s events page to register for upcoming live Q&As. 

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