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USDA chief: Climate change already hurting farmers

  • Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announces new climate zones to help farmers deal with climate change, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, during the daily news briefing at the White House in Washington. The government will assess the climate risk in each of these zones, such as forest fires, drought, floods and then help farmers deal with it. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

    Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announces new climate zones to help farmers deal with climate change, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, during the daily news briefing at the White House in Washington. The government will assess the climate risk in each of these zones, such as forest fires, drought, floods and then help farmers deal with it. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

  • Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, right, accompanied by White House press secretary Jay Carney, announces new climate zones to help farmers deal with climate change, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014,  during the daily news briefing at the White House in Washington. Aiming to help rural communities deal with climate change, the Obama administration is creating seven regional "climate hubs" that will serve as clearinghouses for information and outreach about extreme weather across the US.  (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

    Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, right, accompanied by White House press secretary Jay Carney, announces new climate zones to help farmers deal with climate change, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, during the daily news briefing at the White House in Washington. Aiming to help rural communities deal with climate change, the Obama administration is creating seven regional "climate hubs" that will serve as clearinghouses for information and outreach about extreme weather across the US. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

  • Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announces new climate zones to help farmers deal with climate change, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, during the daily news briefing at the White House in Washington. The government will assess the climate risk in each of these zones, such as forest fires, drought, floods and then help farmers deal with it. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

    Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announces new climate zones to help farmers deal with climate change, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, during the daily news briefing at the White House in Washington. The government will assess the climate risk in each of these zones, such as forest fires, drought, floods and then help farmers deal with it. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

  • Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announces new climate zones to help farmers deal with climate change, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, during the daily news briefing at the White House in Washington. The government will assess the climate risk in each of these zones, such as forest fires, drought, floods and then help farmers deal with it. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
  • Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, right, accompanied by White House press secretary Jay Carney, announces new climate zones to help farmers deal with climate change, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014,  during the daily news briefing at the White House in Washington. Aiming to help rural communities deal with climate change, the Obama administration is creating seven regional "climate hubs" that will serve as clearinghouses for information and outreach about extreme weather across the US.  (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
  • Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announces new climate zones to help farmers deal with climate change, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, during the daily news briefing at the White House in Washington. The government will assess the climate risk in each of these zones, such as forest fires, drought, floods and then help farmers deal with it. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Climate change is already hurting American farmers and rural residents, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said yesterday, warning that the United States would regret any failure to adapt and prepare for shifting weather realities.

Unveiling a new effort to coordinate the government’s response, Vilsack said extreme weather events have already taken the U.S. by surprise, putting ranchers and others out of business. He pointed to the intensity and frequency of recent storms, long droughts, snowstorms and subzero temperatures as evidence that climate change is no longer hypothetical or in the future.

“The combination of all those factors convinces me that the climate is changing, and it’s going to have its impact, and will have its impact, and is having its impact on agriculture and forestry,” Vilsack said.

Pine bark beetles that in years past were killed off during harsh winters have now infected about 45 million trees in western states, leading to more severe forest fires, posing flood risks and threatening the timber industry, Vilsack said. In the absence of adequate forecasting and disaster assistance, he said, an October snowstorm wiped out cattle operations in the Dakotas.

“When that snowstorm hit, it didn’t wipe out just a few animals. It wiped out the entire operation,” Vilsack said. “Nobody anticipated and expected that severe a storm, that early.”

To that end, the Obama administration said seven new “climate hubs,” including one in New Hampshire, will open across the U.S., acting as clearinghouses for data and research about effects of climate change. Based out of existing Agriculture Department facilities, the hubs will assess local climate risks, such as drought and wildfire, then develop plans for dealing with them, such as improved irrigation techniques.

The goal is to synchronize the federal government’s preparation and resources with what other entities, such as universities, tribal communities and state governments, are doing to prepare for shifting temperatures.

“It’s taking existing avenues, research service or forest service, and charging them with a new responsibility to basically take a look at precisely what risks are currently being recognized and what’s the vulnerability to agriculture and to forestry in each region of the country,” Vilsack said.

Vilsack disclosed the locations for the new hubs, which were announced last year and included in Obama’s broader climate change plan. In addition to the one in Durham, the six other regional hubs will be housed in forest service stations or government research labs in Ames, Iowa; Raleigh, N.C.; Fort Collins, Colo.; El Reno, Okla.; Corvallis, Ore.; and Las Cruces, N.M. Three smaller “sub-hubs” will be created in Houghton, Mich.; Davis, Calif.; and Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico.

Well...those pine bark beetles should all be dead after this harsh winter...and that "long" drought in California....might it be a "short" period of wetter than usual recently? Didnt they recently find strong evidence of very long periods of extreme drought??? So..is drought "normal" or is wetter than usual "normal"???..Short answer...no one knows

So your answer to droughts is to just wait them out, someday the wet period will return. Under those thoughts all those dams and reservoirs built around the country were just a waste of big government money. Interesting how some feel it is more important to give tax breaks and subsidies to big corporations (for those dividends) and fail to feel it is important to plan for water that the country needs for drinking and growing food. Better to have short term profits vs long term survival.

No...I guess my point is there really isnt enough evidence to say for sure. We know that in the past, there have been terrible droughts in California, lasting over 100 years. We also know that in the last 2 centuries or so, it has been relatively wet. Definitely need to plan for the droughts...but one lasting 100 years might be tough.

GWTW: I will partially hijack your perfectly reasonable comment to ask a different question. (Please excuse.) Q: Do you agree that we do “know” that the atmosphere is warming significantly, and that it is caused by us? This question is settled, as last summer we had the following ”Bombshell: Koch-Funded Study Finds ‘Global Warming Is Real’, ‘On The High End’ And ‘Essentially All’ Due To Carbon Pollution.” The author of this truly comprehensive study reported that the Kochs were fine with his conclusion and simply wanted the facts. See: http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2012/07/28/602151/bombshell-koch-funded-study-finds-global-warming-is-real-on-the-high-end-and-essentially-all-due-to-carbon-pollution/ Now if only they would do the right thing with that information...

you used a debunked 2012 study - and this is what the co-author of that study - Judith Curry - says today - “Forget global warming!? Earth undergoing global COOLING since 2002! Climate Scientist Dr. Judith Curry: ‘Attention in the public debate seems to be moving away from the 15-17 year ‘pause’ to the cooling since 2002’” . HEADLINE : What Global Warming? 2012 Data Confirms Earth In Cooling Trend ... Cybercast News Service, by Barbara Hollingsworth

The poster is wrong, and is using denier spin--none of the quoted headlines are accurate, and none come from climate science. Instead they come straight from the far-right industry funded deniosphere. It isn't science, and it isn't journalism. It's fundamentally dishonest. As for Curry, her comments are often taken out of context, but she is increasingly becoming an outlier, joining Lindzen, Spencer, and Christy as irrelevant because her public statements are wrong. The warming continues--there has been NO cooling; the alleged slow-down in the rate of increase in warming (which is the ONLY claim that plausibly be made when looking at the land surface temp. data), is the result of cherry-picking the start and stop times. That the warming has continued, DESPITE reduced solar output over the past 2 decades, when by rights there should have been a cooling trend in the data, should tell anyone that the warming is real, it's serious, and we need to begin to tackle this issue. It isn't going away--it's THE issue of the 21st century, Climate change will be the root cause of all conflicts after 2025.

Climatologists are saying it may be the driest period in 500 years in CA, and much of the southwest is experiencing moderate to severe drought. Long range forecasts by climate science project a permanently drier southwest. Meanwhile, the U.K has experienced record rain and floods. Much of Alaska experienced record warmth, at the same time the midwest and east endured frigid temps. Australia is experiencing record heat and drought. If the projections of climate science are right, at some point a pattern of more extreme weather will emerge, and the weather we experienced during the 20th century will not be what we experience in the 21st. Some would say we've already crossed that threshold. Time will tell, as CO2 levels continue to rise, and our planet continues to warm.

For deniers of the facts on climate change, it must be strange and difficult, and require considerable effort, to continue to maintain their claims, as reality intrudes ever more often. To believe it's all some sort of government plot with nefarious purpose, by thousands of climate scientists working covertly for some shadowy world government, seems the favored notion, based on my readings at Granite Grok and the occasional statement on this site. The same people who hold this belief seem to have no problem trusting powerful corporations and shadowy oligarchs with vested interests in maintaining the status-quo come hell or high-water (or both--literally). Ayn Rand would be so proud. Meanwhile, ask a gardener about climate change.http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/capital-weather-gang/post/new-usda-plant-zones-clearly-show-climate-change/2012/01/27/gIQA7Vz2VQ_blog.html

QUOTE: U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told members of the National Restaurant Association that Americans need to “adjust” their tastes so that they like the kind of food the government believes they should eat. THAT IS THE GOVT THAT OBAMA AND THE DEMOCRATS WANT FOR YOU

Not quite: to learn to eat more of the kinds of foods science and medicine know we should be eating--as opposed to the kinds of food the fast food industry would have eating

Socialists have no problem with BIG GOVT telling you what you have to like

and conservatives have no problem with for profit companies telling you what you like.

Obviously - Liberals don't have a witty original bone in them...much less a common sense or rational thought

Come, come now. All the great comedians are liberals. Some one on here didn't even have enough sense of humor to know when I was making fun of his childish game of spelling words wrong.

Now now. there are some conservative posters here that I think are funny as all get out. I get a good laugh just about every day from some of the conservative commenters here.

No surprise, Michelle Obama tells us how our children should be fed, etc. If progressives had their way, they would have a rule book on how to live their lifestyle as they are pretentious, arrogant and they are soooooo enlightened. The latest thing, if you did not hear it is that Obamacare will reduce "job lock" and allow people to have less challenging professions and get a subsidy. Progressives are ruining this country. I hope when Republicans come back into power that we treat them in the same way and reverse all of the damage they have created.

Oh yeah, obesity will be the way to go when Republicans come back into power.

Your tax dollars at work.

what a frigging joke - more of the democrats big govt solution to a non existing problem

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