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Storm clouds and severe weather scene. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

New AFRI Priority Area Supports Rapid Response to Extreme Weather, Other Disasters

Guest Author
AFRI Rapid Response Team

September is National Preparedness Month, and it is a time for individuals, families, communities and businesses to reflect on their own readiness for disasters and emergencies — and to take the necessary steps to prepare for them.

Disasters caused by natural hazards and extreme weather events can happen anywhere, anytime. This summer brought sustained drought conditions for the West and Central Plains; extreme flooding in Yellowstone National Park and in Kentucky; and notable wildfires in the Southwest and Pacific Northwest. Although it’s been a quiet summer for hurricanes, hurricane season is far from over. And across the country, there have been hundreds of localized incidents that didn’t get broad public attention, yet they disrupted peoples’ lives and livelihoods.  

It’s not a matter of if disasters and emergencies will happen, it’s a matter of when they will. And there’s no time like the present to act.

National Preparedness Month is an annual reminder to prepare for disasters and emergencies, but actions are needed year-round. While hazards can be natural, disasters are not natural. Calling disasters “natural” implies that no matter what, the impacts caused by hazards would simply occur anyway. Actions and decisions, or the lack thereof, at the community and societal levels can increase the impacts caused by natural hazards, which disproportionately affect vulnerable people and food systems.

One of NIFA’s newest Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) priority areas, Rapid Response to Extreme Weather Events Across Food and Agricultural Systems (A1712), launched this spring. This priority area seeks applications that focus on critical and urgent solutions in rapid response to extreme weather events and disaster impacts on our nation’s food and agricultural systems.

Applications must be tied to a recent weather event and must address at least one of these emphasis areas:

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

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Consult the Request for Applications for more information about eligibility.

While A1712 is a response-focused priority area, there are actions that potential applicants can take now to prepare for the when scenario:

  • Reflect on past extreme weather events or disasters. Consider the local weather hazards and the historical impacts caused by them. Were there emerging outreach and research needs during the response? How could your community respond differently and plan ahead to be better prepared?
  • Read the RFA. Learn more about the program and its requirements by reading its description in the AFRI Foundational and Applied Science RFA.
  • Build a team. Now’s the time to bring others to the table. Consider who’s missing. Are there people with areas of expertise who need to be included? Think inclusively.
  • Share ideas. As a team, brainstorm potential projects. Think boldly. What is a known problem that can be addressed through this priority area? Where is there an outreach and/or a research gap? Keep A1712’s emphasis areas in mind.
  • Prepare documents. Know what it takes to apply for an AFRI grant. Now is the time to get key documents ready that will need to be included in the final application package.

The A1712 priority area is focused on response activities in outreach and research. It supports projects that contribute to our collective understanding about impacts – environmental, economic and social – that are caused by natural hazards.

Knowledge is power, and the knowledge generated from funded projects supports future outreach and research activities across food and agricultural systems.

For more information on this priority area, visit the A1712 webpage or contact the AFRI Rapid Response team at

Top image: Storm clouds and severe weather scene. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock. 

Farm Bill Priority Areas
Bioenergy, natural resources, and environment

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