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These steps apply to multiple vulnerabilities, further contributing to an adaptive, resilient NIFA. 

The proposed climate adaptation actions NIFA has identified cluster around four broad themes: new NIFA programming, strategic planning, organizational effectiveness, and stakeholder outreach and education.  

Some proposed actions relate to the cross-cutting themes of environmental justice, workforce development, and USDA Climate Hubs. Those actions are also denoted below. 

Read the full report for further detail.  

New NIFA Programming 

Develop new opportunities to address climate change vulnerabilities 
  • New Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Priorities: Depending on future funding availability, NIFA will create new opportunities within AFRI to address climate-smart agriculture and forestry practices and mitigation of agriculture greenhouse gases. 
  • Cooperative Extension: NIFA will support the national Cooperative Extension System in assisting agriculture, forestry, and rural communities to adapt to the challenges of climate change and develop resilient rural economies. 
  • Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK): NIFA will support work to better understand traditional ecological knowledge through investments in research, Extension, and education. 
  • Climate Hubs Partnerships: NIFA will continue to encourage Extension partners to collaborate with USDA Climate Hubs to develop and deliver culturally appropriate, non-formal educational outreach materials about climate change. NIFA will also provide opportunities for students and scientists to complete internships and sabbaticals at USDA Climate Hubs. Cross-Cutting Action: Climate Hubs 
  • Positive Youth Development: Invigorating NIFA’s positive youth development programs with updated curricula will help ensure climate science and environmental justice are foundational knowledge for the next generation. 
  • Integration: NIFA will evaluate opportunities to include language about climate change throughout future RFAs and priorities. 
Encourage stakeholders to adapt their science to climate change  
  • RFA Purposes and Priorities: NIFA will review its authority to include standardized language that emphasizes the importance of climate change into the “Purpose and Priorities” section of RFAs, as well as how projects can improve inclusion of historically underserved communities and small-scale farmers. For workforce development programs, NIFA will examine opportunities to expand RFA language to include education and Extension for diverse target audiences. Cross-Cutting Action: Environmental Justice and Workforce Development. 
  • Broader Impacts: NIFA will review its current authority to include a new section called “Broader Impacts” within AFRI RFAs. 
  • Pitfalls: Instructions for the “Pitfalls” section of Agriculture and Food Research Initiative RFAs will be amended to include instructions for applicants to describe project-specific vulnerabilities to climate events. 
Take an integrated systems approach to climate change programming 
  • Climate Change Priority Team: NIFA’s Climate Change Priority Team will continue to recruit participation from throughout the agency to promote climate literacy internally and lead to new cross-cutting initiatives. NIFA will also explore opportunities to invest in climate change education, mentorship and training through synergies with the agency’s new Workforce Development Priority Team. Cross-Cutting Action: Workforce Development 
  • NIFA Staffing: NIFA will strengthen and expand internal climate change expertise by ensuring biological and social science staff with climate science expertise are present in each NIFA science institute. 
  • Climate Science Communications: NIFA will invest in improving accessibility of climate change communication for our stakeholders. 
  • Integrated investments: NIFA will aim to balance its climate change investment portfolio across research, education, and Extension through individually focused and integrated projects. 

Strategic Planning 

Integrate climate change into agency-wide planning processes. 
  • NIFA Strategic Plan: NIFA will publish a new strategic plan that will consider climate adaptation in its mission, programs and operations. 
  • Timeliness: NIFA will establish a team of subject matter experts to assist with setting timelines for RFA language and developing relevant grant policies. 
  • Agency Champion: NIFA has identified and will continue to identify a senior executive service (SES)- level lead for climate change science. 
Increase interagency coordination for climate change science. 
  • Farm Production and Conservation (FPAC): NIFA leadership will continue to meet and coordinate with leadership at FPAC, a USDA sibling agency, on climate science. 
  • Science Funding Agencies: NIFA will work directly with agency funding partners to examine opportunities for collaborative climate adaptation funding programs. 
  • Enterprise Data Analytics Platform & Toolset (EDAPT): NIFA is engaged in USDA’s effort to create the EDAPT and uniform standards for stakeholder access to spatially explicit USDA data.  
  • National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS): As a USDA sibling agency in the same mission area, NIFA will coordinate with the NASS to access and use data on climate-smart agriculture and forestry practices to analyze the impacts of NIFA climate adaptation funding. 
  • National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST): NIFA will review opportunities to work with the U.S. Department of Commerce’s NIST to use the iEdison portal and better assess inventions and valuable intellectual properties resulting from NIFA investments in climate adaptation. 
  • National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES): NIFA will review opportunities to work with the National Science Foundation’s NCSES to better understand the impacts of our climate adaptation investments on awarded degrees and employment outcomes. Cross-Cutting Action: Workforce Development 
  • Treasury: NIFA will continue its participation and engagement in Treasury’s Financial Literacy and Education Commission, which will result in a Climate Change and Transition Report on building household financial well-being under climate change. 
  • U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP): NIFA will continue its participation and engagement, as authors on NCA chapters, reviewers, and working group members, in the USGCRP. 

Organizational Effectiveness

Adapt NIFA granting procedures to climate change. 
  • No-Cost Extensions: NIFA will highlight existing authorities to allow no-cost extensions for climate-related project setbacks.  
  • Adapted Objectives: In cases where climate change precludes completion of initial research objectives, NIFA will support stakeholders by allowing amendments to project objectives. 
  • Extended Application Deadlines: In the case of extreme weather events, NIFA will extend application deadlines when justified for applicants in affected areas to ensure all stakeholders can submit competitive proposals. 
Examine reporting mechanisms to track climate change expenditures and impacts. 
  • Metrics: NIFA’s Climate Change Priority Team will determine what impact metrics are both informative and feasible to collect from applicants. 
  • Tracking: NIFA will evaluate existing award tracking methods to improve identification of climate change projects and will train programmatic staff in climate change award tracking techniques. This will also enable NIFA to identify opportunities to reach stakeholders who have been historically underserved. Cross-Cutting Action: Environmental Justice 
  • Open Data: NIFA will work to develop advanced analytics (e.g., artificial intelligence) and visualization dashboards for climate change science projects. 
  • Impacts: NIFA will expand analyses of climate-related investments by jurisdiction and institution to determine how those expenditures impact climate adaptation in different communities. NIFA will also collaborate with partners to develop new approaches to document and measure benefits of climate adaptation investments for historically underserved communities. Cross-Cutting Action: Environmental Justice 
Improve NIFA’s workforce flexibility to better adapt to climate change. 
  • NIFA Workforce: NIFA will encourage staff to become better educated and experienced with climate science and its intersections with environmental justice. Cross-Cutting Action: Workforce Development 
  • Remote Work: NIFA has moved to a work model in which employees can choose their work duty locations. This flexibility will increase the ability for operations to continue unimpeded in the face of extreme climate events at the Washington, D.C. and Kansas City, Missouri work sites. 
  • Leave Policies: NIFA Human Resources staff will clarify and educate agency employees about how leave policies could be invoked to care for family members or oneself whose health is adversely impacted by extreme weather. 

Stakeholder Outreach and Education 

Increase outreach to stakeholders about NIFA climate change activities, opportunities and data. 
  • Metrics: NIFA’s Climate Change Priority Team will determine what impact metrics are both informative and feasible to collect from applicants. 
  • Climate Change Funding Webinars: NIFA will host public webinars about climate change funding opportunities.  
  • International Cooperation: NIFA’s Center for International Programs will evaluate opportunities to encourage international partnerships that will help the U.S. advance climate adaptation domestically. 
  • Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) and Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs): NIFA will emphasize outreach to and support for MSIs and TCUs, including concerted efforts to reach stakeholders at 1890, 1994, and Hispanic-Serving Land-Grant institutions. Cross-Cutting Action: Environmental Justice 
  • Liaisons: NIFA will develop communication tools, such as talking points and slide decks, about NIFA’s climate adaptation funding opportunities to further support National Science Liaisons; regional, state, and multistate liaisons; and key stakeholder liaisons.  
  • Universities & Extension: NIFA will work with key stakeholders to evaluate gaps in university and Cooperative Extension expertise related to climate change and will work with Extension partners to create a roadmap to close those gaps. Cross-Cutting Action: Workforce Development 

Read the full report for further detail.  

Farm bill priority areas
Bioenergy, natural resources, and environment
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