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Climate change will impact NIFA’s ability to carry out its mission along a variety of pathways and threatens to exacerbate the disparities and challenges faced by historically underserved communities. 


Climate change threatens water resources through drought, flooding, alteration of snowmelt and precipitation, soil erosion, and coastal inundation. Water resource limitations can cause conflicts between urban and agricultural systems, and the human dimensions of water use and technology adoption can further compound management challenges. 

Areas of vulnerability include: 

  • Water quantity 
  • Water quality 
  • Groundwater 
  • Riparian and aquatic ecosystems 

Agroecosystem Productivity and Sustainability 

Monoculture agroecosystems are vulnerable to an increasingly variable and extreme climate. Climate change is accelerating risks from biotic stressors, including pests (e.g., rodents and arthropods), weeds and pathogens, and abiotic stressors, such as soil erosion caused by wind and water. Successful climate adaptation will require prioritized attention to multiple components of agroecosystem productivity and sustainability. 

Areas of vulnerability include: 

  • Pests, invasive species and disease 
  • Pollinator health 
  • Soil health 
  • Forest health 
  • Livestock productivity 
  • Coastal agroecosystems 
  • Ecosystem services 
  • Markets and livelihoods 

Food and Nutrition Security 

Evidence indicates that increased temperature, drought, rainfall variability, extreme weather and ocean acidification associated with climate change is related to reduced food production, altered nutrient content, inequitable access to healthy foods and beverages, and high rates of food insecurity. 

Areas of vulnerability include: 

  • Food systems 
  • Food safety 
  • Food access 
  • Food loss and waste 
  • Nutritional quality 

Resilience to Extreme and Variable Weather Events 

Climate change will lead to greater frequency and intensity of extreme weather-related disasters caused by naturally occurring hazards (e.g., extreme temperatures, wildfires, tornados, floods, hurricanes, tropical storms, windstorms, and blizzards), which directly impact agricultural, rangeland, forestry, aquaculture production and dependent systems, and can lead to infrastructure damage and land degradation. 

Areas of vulnerability include: 

  • Supply chains 
  • Livestock welfare 

Education Pipeline 

NIFA is responsible for investing in formal and informal education to ensure the development of human capital, communities, and a diverse workforce. Climate change presents a new challenge for ensuring equitable participation and updating curricula at all stages of NIFA’s educational pipeline. 

Areas of vulnerability include: 

  • Land managers and producers 
  • Public and nonprofit sectors 
  • Private sector 

Continuity of Operations 

Climate change may affect NIFA’s ability to carry out its mission and objectives. It presents a dual threat to the continuity of essential research, education and Extension by disrupting the agency’s capacity to support its stakeholders and by impeding grantees from fulfilling funded objectives. 

Areas of vulnerability include: 

  • Infrastructure 
  • Personnel 
  • Stakeholder operations 

Read the full report for more information about these areas of vulnerability. 

Farm bill priority areas
Bioenergy, natural resources, and environment
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