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Hub Priorities for FY22 NIFA RFA

This page summarizes the FY22 priorities for each Regional Climate Hub to help prospective NIFA AFRI grant applicants develop their proposals. Please reach out to the listed point(s) of contact (POC) in each Hub with questions.

Applicants interested in partnering with a regional Climate Hub should reach out to potential Climate Hubs ideally 4-6 weeks before the AFRI due date for Letters of Intent (LOI) on June 2, 2022. If an LOI has been approved, budget conversations should begin with the Hub within 1-2 weeks of approval.

Full applications are due on October 6, 2022.

For members of the USDA Climate Hubs to collaborate on a proposed project for the USDA NIFA AFRI Extension, Education and USDA Climate Hubs Partnership (A1721) request for applications (RFA), the proposal must:

  1. Directly involve the USDA Climate Hubs' mission
  2. Include the Climate Hub(s) early in the proposal development
  3. Clearly outline roles and expectations of the Climate Hub(s)
  4. Demonstrate how funds will support a liaison between the project and Hub(s)

While the information below outlines each Hub's priorities, if you would like to propose a new area (innovation) please reach out to the listed POC for further discussions.

Due to federal regulation, 5 CFR 2635.702 (b), members of the USDA Climate Hubs can only write letters of collaboration that state our commitment to working on the project if funded. These letters can only state facts, not opinions on project validity or value. USDA staff may not write letters of endorsement of any organization, product, service, or enterprise.

Access the NIFA-AFRI Request For Applications here.

The California Climate Hub has expertise in applied climate science, forestry, and natural resources management, agricultural climatology, and social science. Our program is built around enabling climate-informed decision making related to water scarcity and drought management, the effects of climate change on working lands, climate smart agriculture, forest resilience post-fire management, and nature-based climate solutions. We are also very experienced with large group facilitation and developing and hosting stakeholder exchange sessions, workshops, and large symposia. If we can be of any assistance to you in this space, please reach out.

Specific Priorities:

  • Expand scientifically rigorous climate-smart agriculture and forestry knowledge for better application of practice through the publication of original research, vulnerability assessments, synthesis reports, and workbooks that provide and communicate science information.
  • Support the development and promotion of tools and platforms that assist with climate-informed decision making, support climate resilience, and lead to the incorporation of net-zero natural and working land base practices.
  • Increase the integration of climate considerations into land management planning and promote the development and adoption of climate-smart and climate-adaptive practices and decision-making among agriculture, forest, and natural resources professionals.

Please reach out with any questions to:

Steve Ostoja, PhD
Director, California Climate Hub
steven.ostoja@usda.gov
530-760-7305

Devon Johnson, M.S.
Coordinator, California Climate Hub
desjohnson@ucdavis.edu
914-356-2135

The mission of the Caribbean Climate Hub is to support more productive and sustainable tropical agriculture and forestry while responding to climate change. Our objectives are to help farmers and foresters in the region reduce carbon emissions, increase carbon sequestration, increase resilience to extreme climate events, and increase the productivity and sustainability of tropical agricultural and forestry lands.

Three key priorities include: 1) Enhancing climate resilience in the U.S. Caribbean, 2) Building climate awareness among agency and extension staff, practitioners in farming and forestry, and the general public, and 3) Facilitating assessments and knowledge exchange on adaptation and mitigation technologies or practices relevant to tropical forestry and agriculture. Actions to address these priorities include developing and disseminating research and tools, fostering engagement through learning networks, collaborations, workshops, and outreach, and continued assessment and learning on how to best accomplish our mission.

Specific Priorities:

  • Develop and share bilingual tools and technology for addressing climate change: expand the Caribbean Hub Agricultural Statistics and Farm Planning tools, extend GrassCast to the U.S. Caribbean rangelands, include the Caribbean in the AgRisk Viewer tool.
  • Develop sector-specific hurricane and drought preparedness materials.
  • Develop protocols and training for agency and extension personnel to conduct farm and forest-scale assessments that integrate climate adaptation and mitigation practices with economic, ecological, cultural, and educational benefits. This should be compatible with USFS State and Private Forestry stewardship planning, NRCS farm planning, and local and federal agency programs and incentives.
  • Develop drought communication tools across the Climate Hub network.
  • Expand the Caribbean Soil Health Learning Network.
  • Expand the Puerto Rico Forest Resource Council to include Cooperative Extension.
  • Develop capacity in a climate-smart sustainable wood industry in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.
  • Better understand the role of carbon markets in relation to underserved communities.
  • Support science translation and dialog among research teams and climate service providers.
  • Develop and support “model farm and forest operations” for research, training, and outreach purposes.

Please reach out with any questions to:

William Gould
Director, Caribbean Climate Hub
william.a.gould@usda.gov
787-402-9955

The Midwest Climate Hub works to develop and share information on climate and agriculture issues to the broader scope of Midwest agriculture including row crops, animal agriculture, and specialty crops across a broad range of time scales, including near-term agricultural issues like drought and excessive wetness, and longer-term changes like changing precipitation regimes, and seasonality of temperatures.

The Midwest Climate Hub is working with partners to understand overall climate changes and help develop products/information that people can use to adapt to and mitigate climate changes. These efforts can range from changing management to address current issues, looking at the corn-soy system in climate change, and working with partners to think about new agricultural systems. These partnerships include the wide range of federal, state, land-grant and NGOs in the region.

Specific Priorities:

  • Develop new state climate and crop agricultural summaries to share climate impacts and change information for specific regions or crops.
  • Develop new tools for producers to understand current agriculture climate conditions including issues like changing freeze dates, soil temperatures, evapo-transpiration, etc. Work with partners to deploy and evaluate new tools.
  • Create and disseminate outlook information for agricultural producers to support in-season decision-making.
  • Work with partners to assess the impact of Midwestern Climate Services and evaluation of products and services with stakeholders.
  • Create and incorporate information in other USDA and federal agency products to improve the information producers use and delivery to partners.

Please reach out with any questions to:

Dennis Todey
Director, Midwest Climate Hub
dennis.todey@usda.gov
515 294-2013

The Northeast Climate Hub seeks to work with Extension and other land grant institution partners in our region (Maine to West Virginia). These partnerships are critical to realizing the Hub’s mission. Together, land grant institutions and the Hub find and share practical solutions to climate change related to agriculture and forest management issues, and address information gaps where needed. For FY2022 we are especially interested in research and outreach on practices that help producers increase their resilience to climate change while also reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions or increasing carbon storage (example: soil health). We are also particularly interested in issues relating to under-served populations and climate equity.

Specific Priorities:

  • Find and share practical solutions to climate change-related agriculture and natural resource management stressors and address information gaps where needed. Our network collaborations should connect stakeholders to climate-related resources.
  • Conduct research and outreach on the economics of climate-smart practices.
  • Identify metrics or indicators of success for NRCS (and others) of climate-smart practices and incentives (forestry, agroforestry, and agriculture) i.e., quantifying benefits of practices.
  • Facilitate assessments and knowledge exchange of mitigation technologies and practices (i.e., GHG reduction and carbon sequestration), and especially on practices that synergistically support both adaptation and mitigation outcomes.
  • Elevate solutions for achieving climate justice throughout the Northeast.

Project Ideas:
  • Support graduate student climate learning and build collaboration opportunities with an emphasis on promoting under-represented engagement (https://www.climatehubs.usda.gov/hubs/northeast/topic/gradcap).
  • Encourage data-driven decision making through on-farm weather stations and education. Evaluate weather station use by farmers. Work with farmers to produce outreach materials on how monitoring weather and using weather tools helps them make decisions. Engage with TSCAN users (https://www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/tribalscan/index.html) to further develop decision support tools.
  • Engage farmers and agricultural advisors interested in climate adaptation practices and tools. Work with them to increase their ability to apply climate information into management decisions, and ultimately facilitate broad adoption of climate adaptation practices by land managers and Technical Service Providers. The program is sector specific (tree fruit, dairy) and would be in partnership with existing team https://www.climatehubs.usda.gov/hubs/northeast/project/climate-adaptation-fellowship.
  • Convene and coordinate adaptation/mitigation activities in partnership with other entities (Cooperative Extension, Soil and Water Conservation District employees, etc.) to create a Climate Learning Network that can identify research and outreach gaps.
  • Connect and engage partners and stakeholders via digital platforms to share collective knowledge, stories, and experiences around climate adaptation in our region. Create and curate high-level hub/partner products, articles, and news into engaging templates to keep partners and stakeholders up to date on USDA Climate Hub work/collaborations.
  • Showcase climate-resilient forest and agriculture management practices through demonstration sites and/or virtual tours on climate smart practices (i.e., agroforestry, rotational grazing).

Please send email inquiries to both people below:

David Hollinger
Director, Northeast Climate Hub
david.hollinger@usda.gov

Erin Lane
Coordinator, Northeast Climate Hub
erin.d.lane@usda.gov

The Northern Forests Climate Hub (NFCH) develops and delivers science-based, region-specific information and technologies, to help natural resource managers and woodland owners integrate climate change information into planning, decision making, and management activities to sustain the diverse benefits from forests in a changing climate. The NFCH provides direct technical expertise to expand the capacity of the Midwest and Northeast Regional Climate Hubs related to forests and natural resource management. Further, the NFCH also provides an increasing level of assistance to other regional Hubs in addressing forestry-related topics.

The Northern Forests Climate Hub (NFCH):

  • Develops resources and provides technical support for land managers to respond to climate impacts and disturbances such as: drought, heat stress, floods, pests, shifts in habitat suitability, sea level rise and coastal erosion of forests, and any other forest and ecosystem challenges in the context of climate change.
  • Synthesizes information on climate change impacts and develops regional assessments for ecosystem vulnerability to support adaptation planning and activities.
  • Conducts outreach and education for natural resource professionals and woodland owners to enhance understanding of climate change impacts and management responses for climate adaptation and carbon mitigation.

Specific Priorities:
  • Expand the adoption and application of resources developed by the NFCH and USDA/Forest Service partners (e.g., vulnerability assessments, adaptation resources, tools, science delivery resources) to enhance climate adaptation and carbon mitigation in forests, ecosystems, and urban forests.
  • Develop curricula to enhance climate literacy at multiple educational levels, leveraging resources developed by the NFCH and USDA/Forest Service partners and incorporating environmental justice and equity issues.
  • Conduct economic assessments, resources, and extension programming to address climate change impacts on forest industry, environmental justice communities, or communities economically or socially dependent upon forests and environmental services that are threatened by climate change.
  • Develop datasets, tools, technology, and training materials regarding altered precipitation, increased hydrologic variability, and impacts to ecosystems (e.g., drought, wildfire, impacts to wetlands) to help land managers respond to changing conditions.

Please reach out with any questions to:

Maria Janowiak
Acting Director, Northern Forests Climate Hub
Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science
Forest Service Northern Research Station
maria.janowiak@usda.gov

The Northern Plains Climate Hub (NPCH) serves working-land managers and their trusted partners in Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska. The needs they express influence the NPCH’s annual work plan, in combination with annual priorities identified by the USDA Climate Hubs’ Executive Committee. In FY22, the Executive Committee’s priorities included: 1) enhancing climate resilience of working lands (i.e., croplands, rangelands, and forests); 2) building climate awareness; and 3) facilitating assessments and knowledge exchange on mitigation technologies or practices. Below are examples of the types of activities that the NPCH undertakes—in collaboration with stakeholders and trusted outreach, education, and research partners—to address stakeholder needs and Executive Committee priorities.

Specific Priorities:

  • Convene and foster partnerships among tribal, federal, state (including land grant universities), local, NGO, or private industry professionals to facilitate knowledge exchange and build a climate-informed workforce that has the capacity to use science-based, data-driven information and resources about climate-smart practices on working lands.
  • Synthesize and communicate relevant, science-based information about climate change, impacts on working lands, climate-smart practices, and mitigation actions (e.g., emissions reductions, carbon sequestration or stewardship practices) to customers through print, radio, in-person or virtual events, online outlets, or other creative media. See examples of past NPCH-supported outreach efforts—some with the potential to be expanded in content, accessibility (e.g., non-English languages), or geographic scope—at https://go.usa.gov/xzKah.
  • Build collaborative relationships with disadvantaged communities (e.g., historically underserved, marginalized, linguistically isolated, etc.), and/or their trusted boundary organizations, to co-develop culturally appropriate ways to support their efforts to increase climate-resiliency on working lands. See screening tools available to help identify disadvantaged communities such as https://go.usa.gov/xzKx7 and https://go.usa.gov/xzKxs.
  • NPCH staff currently have strong socioeconomic expertise and outreach experience in grassland ecosystems, rangeland livestock systems, and their interface with climate change. To help fulfill our broader mission of serving diverse types of working lands, we could benefit from expanded Hub staffing or partner capacity at the intersection of climate change and forests, agroforestry, confined livestock systems (e.g., beef, dairy, hogs), integrated crop-livestock systems, or cropping systems (dryland or irrigated), including specialty crops.

Please send email inquiries to both people below:

Dannele Peck
Director, Northern Plains Climate Hub
dannele.peck@usda.gov
970-744-9043

Windy Kelley
Coordinator, Northern Plains Climate Hub
wkelley1@uwyo.edu

The mission of the Northwest Climate Hub is to serve Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington by delivering science-based, region-specific technologies and practical information that will assist with climate-informed decision making on working lands. Our goals are to provide information and technology to guide climate-informed decision making by farmers, ranchers, forest landowners, Native American tribes, Alaska Natives, natural resource managers, and technology transfer specialists to promote sustainable and productive working landscapes in the Northwest.

Specific Priorities:

  • Support sustainable transformation through science-based information, trainings, and peer-to-peer learning networks across diverse groups to increase adoption and application of climate-smart practices, mitigation technologies, and carbon sequestration on working lands.
  • Co-create demonstrations and economic case studies that showcase real-world examples of how farmers, ranchers, forest landowners, and land managers adapt to climate change while meeting their goals.
  • Work with Tribal Nations and Alaska Natives to incorporate the use of traditional knowledge in adaptation and mitigation actions.
  • Implement adaptative silviculture and post-fire reforestation that considers climate change
  • Identify climate literacy training needs and develop curriculum for extension, including curriculum on environmental justice and equity issues.

Please reach out with any questions to:

Jessica Halofsky
Director, Northwest Climate Hub
jessica.halofsky@usda.gov

The Southeast Climate Hub serves the 11-state region that includes the eight coastal states from Virginia to Louisiana and up through Arkansas, Tennessee, and Kentucky, by delivering resources that help producers (e.g., farmers, forest landowners, ranchers, land managers) build resilience to climate change and variability and other threats to the productivity of their working lands. Our goal is to co-produce and synthesize the latest research into resources (e.g., fact sheets, guides, manuals, webinars, workshops, demonstrations) that help build a climate-smart workforce and enable climate-informed decision making.

Specific Priorities:

  • Forecast and assess the impact of natural disasters (e.g., hurricanes, flooding, pest outbreaks) on forest carbon and water resources.
  • Assess and forecast the extent of saltwater intrusion and soil salinization on working lands. Develop guidance for converting impacted and commercially unprofitable land to conservation easements.
  • Ensure that forest land managers have the most up-to-date resources to support achievable and sustainable forest planning. Develop an online tool to guide forest managers through site-specific recommendations for implementing adaptive management.
  • Improve drought awareness, early warning forecasts, and adaptation options for agricultural producers.
  • Develop resources to help build a climate-informed workforce.
  • Co-create demonstrations, case studies, and economic analyses that showcase real-world examples of how producers have adapted to climate change while still meeting their goals.

Please reach out with any questions to:

Steve McNulty
Director, Southeast Climate Hub
steven.mcnulty@usda.gov

The Southern Plains Climate Hub serves a highly productive agricultural region that is a world leader in producing winter wheat, milo (grain sorghum), and cotton. The three-state region is also in the top five cattle producing states showcasing integrated crop-livestock production as a dominant agricultural activity in the Southern Plains. The region is susceptible to climate risks including extreme drought, cold winters, flooding, and wildfires. Irrigation water from several aquifers, including the Ogallala, supports the region’s food and fiber products. Declines in the Ogallala Aquifer water level continue to imperil the economic success and rural communities of the region. For FY22, the Southern Plains Climate Hub will focus on strengthening regional partnerships and implementing key areas of the 10-year research and extension roadmap.

The specific priorities below align with USDA research programs including the ARS Long-term Agroecological Research (LTAR) network and NRCS Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP).

Specific Priorities:

  • Drought and wildfires: More frequent, intense, and longer droughts will negatively affect crop and livestock production in the region. Drier conditions also heighten the risk for wildfires on grazing lands and croplands, but also include threats to forests. There is a need for more comprehensive sector-specific recommendations and tactical response plans. This includes analyses of adaptation response strategies (proactive planning, gradual adjustments, or abrupt responses), cost-benefit analyses of changing crop types and management practices, and integrating surveillance and tactical science into plans for best management practices based on exposure. In livestock systems facing extreme drought, this could include identifying integrated grazing management strategies and technologies for restoring drought-damaged grazing lands and improved animal welfare.
  • Water resources and sustainability: The decline of the Ogallala Aquifer, a major water supply for the region, creates long-term viability issues for agriculture and rural communities. Water conservation and irrigation are employed in dryland crop production, rangeland management, and forestry. Since a large portion of row crop and cereal grain production in the region is rain-fed, the region’s dryland agriculture is more vulnerable to drought and decreased rainfall than irrigated agriculture. Therefore, research, education, and extension efforts around new adaptive water resource management strategies could reduce drought risks, improve profitability, and conserve water.
  • Soil health: Soil health protection, enhancement, and sustainability are important to maintain production capacity for irrigated and dryland crop production, grazing lands, and forestry. Maintaining or improving soil health requires a long-term planning and a sustainable systems approach. A greater understanding of the connection between vegetation management, soil health, and on-farm economics is needed. Moreover, there is increased interest in better understanding carbon sequestration opportunities including environmental and economic benefits.
  • Risk management: Agricultural production is a risky endeavor due to price fluctuations of inputs and products and environmental threats to yield. There is a need for models, tools, and strategies that improve short-, medium-, and long-term risk management planning (i.e., operational, tactical, and strategic planning). The integration of alternative choices, financial options to reduce exposure, and timely weather and climate information and forecasts are critical for being more proactive to changing environmental conditions. Moreover, strategies can be evaluated that focus on optimal production at the farm or ranch level that would not exceed the operation’s long-term carrying capacity.

Please send email inquiries to both people below:

Julian Reyes
Acting Director, Southern Plains Climate Hub
julian.reyes@usda.gov

Susan Eisenhour
Acting Coordinator, Southern Plains Climate Hub
susan.eisenhour@usda.gov

The Southwest Climate Hub aims to support farmers, ranchers, land managers and communities in Hawaii and the US Affiliated Pacific Islands, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and Utah in adapting to and mitigating climate impacts. We also work closely with federal and state agencies and tribal leadership to reach land managers. The Hub operates in three functional areas, including research and science synthesis, data-driven tool development and decision support, and convening scientists and stakeholders to address critical climate change issues impacting farmers, ranchers, and land managers in the Southwestern U.S.

Projects that support the following areas are welcome:

  • More reliable, sustainable rangeland resources
  • More secure and accessible water resources
  • Enhancement of forest and rangeland sustainability (including reduction in size and severity of wildfire)
  • Shift to climate-adapted cropping systems
  • Minimize climate impacts to indigenous and climate-vulnerable communities
  • Minimize GHG emissions from land-based activities

Specific Priorities:
  • Innovative projects that recognize the environmental inequities of disadvantaged communities and that work with those communities to increase their resilience to climate change.
  • Projects to identify and share solutions to Southwestern aridification.
  • Projects that evaluate, elucidate, and communicate how climate change might impact specific communities, and propose solutions to lessen those impacts.
  • Projects that extend Climate Hub relationships and capacity in a meaningful and long-term way, with a plan for sustained collaboration upon project completion.
  • Locally led demonstration projects that include economic analyses and showcase real-world adaptation and mitigation efforts and efficacy metrics.
  • Projects that expand Hub education and decision-support products leading to improved accessibility and implementation.
  • Projects that move from developing an understanding towards changing behaviors and/or practices to realize climate change solutions in farming, ranching and in urban and rural communities. This would necessarily involve expertise in social psychology, behavioral economics, and/or social marketing.
  • Projects that take our current understanding of climate change solutions and adaptation and focus on encouraging wider adoption and practice of these solutions.

Please reach out with any questions to:

Emile Elias
Director, Southwest Climate Hub
emile.elias@usda.gov