By Lu Nelsen
Rural and small town Americans work hard to make a living and adapt to changing times. It’s an important tradition, maintaining a rural way of life while finding new ways to improve it. Farmers, ranchers and rural small business depend upon flexibility, entrepreneurship and innovative adoption of new practices to confront new challenges.
Rural America’s newest challenges will come in the form of a changing climate and the subsequent rise of pests, fires, flooding and droughts. All will threaten the livelihoods of farmers, ranchers, and others in rural communities, making it necessary to seek methods to mitigate damage and adapt to the changes.
In the summer of 2013, the USDA announced they would undertake the creation of regional climate hubs that will focus on aiding farmers and ranchers in adapting to impacts of climate change.
The seven regional Climate Hubs will, hopefully, provide useful tools for farmers and ranchers to employ in their day-to-day operations, as well as in planning for the future. These hubs will translate data and research into real solutions and practices that can be put to use in the field. Their research will also provide ideas and direction for federal conservation programs.
Climate Hubs should also offer farmers and ranchers an opportunity to share what they learn and help drive development of innovative, practical solutions to the challenges they face. And the time has come for conservation programs to help farmers and ranchers adopt diverse agricultural systems that are more responsive to a changing climate.
Lu Nelsen is with the Center for Rural Affairs. Established in 1973, the Center for Rural Affairs is a private, non-profit organization working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities through action oriented programs addressing social, economic, and environmental issues.