Rapidly changing climate is one of the most pressing issues facing farmers, ranchers, landowners, households, and communities.
- Temperatures and drought extremes are recorded nearly every year, which stress crop and livestock systems and make them more susceptible to devastating infestations of native and non-native insects and diseases.
- Devastating wildfires are occurring more frequently and with greater intensity.
- Communities are challenged to maintain adequate and safe food systems while climate change threatens existing supply chains.
- Demands for bio-based and other renewable, non-fossil-based fuels are increasing; and
- Agriculture and forestry systems are increasing looked to for solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and draw carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.
To address these climate change challenges, individuals, families and communities need the best available science to plan for and implement climate-smart and resilient practices. Two critically important approaches to managing for climate resilience are adaptation and mitigation. These strategies are inter-related and must be pursued simultaneously as both can potentially improve resilience to the changing climate.
NIFA-funded adaptation science aims to reduce the impact of climate variability and change on the stability and productivity of agriculture and forest ecosystems. Climate adaptation science provides producers and managers the best available science to support decision-making to maintain economic viability and sustainability.
NIFA-funded mitigation science is directed at reducing atmospheric greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture and forest production. Mitigation practices can include sequestering carbon as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions. By optimizing greenhouse gas mitigation on the nation’s working lands, producers may benefit from carbon and other ecosystem service markets.
Examples of NIFA Climate Change Programs
Capacity Grant Programs: These programs provide funding to eligible land-grant and other institutions on a non-competitive basis to support research and extension programs in the agricultural, food, and natural resource sciences as identified by state and local stakeholders.
- Hatch Act of 1887 (Multistate Research) – Multistate teams from state agricultural experiment stations use these funds to support food and agricultural research programs, including many related to climate change, to generate multifaceted solutions to problems.
- Hatch Act of 1887 (Regular Research) – These funds are provided to state agricultural experiment stations to support in-state food and agricultural research activities, including climate science.
- Evans-Allen Capacity Grant (Research) – These funds support food and agricultural research, including climate science, at the 1890 Land-grant Institutions.
- Smith-Lever Act Capacity Grant (Extension) – This program provides funding to the 1862 land-grant universities to conduct Cooperative Extension programs addressing critical issues identified by stakeholders.
- Renewable Resources Extension Act Capacity Grant – Distributed among 73 land-grant institutions, these funds support expanded programs in forest and rangeland resources.
- Agricultural Extension Programs at 1890 Institutions – These funds support agricultural and forestry extension activities at 1890 Land-Grant Universities, including Tuskegee University and West Virginia State University.
- Tribal College Endowment Program - The 1994 Land-Grant presidents can use these funds at their discretion.
- McIntire-Stennis Cooperative Forestry Research Capacity Grant – This grant program provides funds to eligible institutions to conduct forestry research in eight broad topical areas, including impacts of climate change on forests.
Competitive Grant Programs
- Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) is NIFA’s flagship competitive grants program and funds research, extension, and education through three broad Requests for Applications (RFAs): 1) Foundational and Applied Science, 2) Sustainable Agricultural Systems, and 3) Education and Workforce Development. Many priority programs throughout AFRI RFAs are relevant to climate change across the six priority areas directed by the Farm Bill:
- Plant Health and Production and Plant Products
- Animal Health and Production and Animal Products
- Food Safety, Nutrition, and Health
- Bioenergy, Natural Resources, and Environment
- Agriculture Systems and Technology
- Agriculture Economics and Rural Communities
- Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI)
- Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SARE)
- Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR)
- Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI)