In July, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced nine grants totaling more than $8 million to study and develop new approaches for the agriculture sector to adapt to and mitigate the effects of changing environmental conditions. The funding is made possible through NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) program, authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.
As a member of the USDA Northeast Climate Hub, Rutgers Climate Institute has fostered participation in two of these awards, with the Rutgers component amounting to $33, 219 of the total award of $248,900 for the multi-state effort. There are 16 universities in the Northeast Climate Hub, and Rutgers is one of three participating in both initiatives.
Marjorie Kaplan, associate director Rutgers Climate Institute, is a principal investigator. Other Rutgers personnel include Janice McDonnell, 4-H science engineering & technology (SET) agent; Richard Lathrop, professor of ecology, evolution and natural resources; and Daniel Ward, assistant extension specialist.
Below are descriptions of the two projects:
This project will develop a curriculum including in-person training, mentorships and specific training modules for vegetable/small fruit, tree fruit, dairy farmers, foresters, and technical service providers in the Northeast to support farmers and foresters ability to adapt to climate change. It is a collaborative effort led by University of Vermont in close collaboration with the USDA Northeast Climate Hub, USDA Northern Forest Climate Hub, University of Maine, Pennsylvania State University, and Rutgers University.
This project is a one year planning grant to research the need and develop criteria for a new Extension Climate Master Volunteer Program to support climate-smart communities in the Northeast. The project is led by Cornell University; Rutgers is one of eight land grant universities in New York, Maryland, Maine, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware (University of Delaware and Delaware State University), and the District of Columbia who will participate in this research in collaboration with the USDA Northeast Climate Hub. Marjorie Kaplan, and Amy Rowe, environmental and resource management agent, Rutgers Cooperative Extension will participate in this analysis.
“We have to develop robust plants, animals, and management systems that can flourish under challenging environmental conditions. We expect that the outcomes of these investments will support American farmers and producers, and ensure their profitability,” said Sonny Ramaswamy, NIFA director.
AFRI is America’s flagship competitive grant program for foundational and translational research, education and extension projects in the food and agricultural sciences. The Agriculture and Natural Resources Science for Climate Variability and Change Challenge Area aims to provide risk management information and tools to enable land managers to stay viable and productive, and reduce the use of energy, nitrogen, water, and greenhouse gas emissions.
Rutgers Climate Institute resources related to climate change and agriculture are available here.