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Southwest climate hub helps farmers, ranchers adjust to climate change

By Tiffany Acosta

Posted:   Las Cruces Sun News 05/03/2015 04:35:47 PM MDT

Albert Rango heads up the Southwest Regional Climate Hub, which was started last year to compile practical information for farmers, ranchers and forest landowners to deal with climate change. (Darren Phillips — New Mexico State University)

Established in February 2014, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Southwest Regional Climate Hub was tasked with supplying science-based knowledge and practical information to farmers, ranchers and forest landowners to help them adjust to climate change and weather variability. The hub is located at the Rangeland Management Research Unit/Jornada Experimental Range, the Agricultural Research Service location at New Mexico State University. Al Rango, director of the Southwest Regional Climate Hub, was honored at a NMSU Scholarly Excellence Rally last month.

The Southwest Regional Climate Hub, one of seven regional hubs in the country, covers six states: New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, California and Hawaii, along with islands west of Hawaii.

"The idea is to get the message out to stakeholders — farmers, ranchers and foresters — what they can do to combat the effects of climate change," Rango said. "They are being coordinated by the Cooperative Extension Service so that they get similar messages that will be tailored for the situation in that particular state.

"We're also coordinating our work with the work of the Department of Interior's Climate Centers as well as the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration's Climate Centers," he said.

Two of the main goals for the Southwest hub are to provide outreach and education.

In the Southwest, a wide variety of agricultural crops are produced, including cotton, lettuce, tree fruit, cantaloupes, grapes, onions and pecans. In 2012, the Southwest's total farm income surpassed $55 billion.

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NMSU to honor the Southwest Regional Climate Hub

Date: 04/08/2015
Writer: Tiffany Acosta, 575-646-3929,

Scholarly Excellence Rally recognizing Southwest Regional Climate Hub, Friday, April 10

The rally will honor Albert Rango and his team at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rangeland Management Research Unit/Jornada Experimental Range, a unit of the Agricultural Research Service that is headquartered on the New Mexico State University campus. Rango is the leader of the year-old Southwest Regional Climate Hub, researching the effects of climate change in New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, California, Hawai’i and U.S. territories in the Pacific.

After introductory remarks, Rango will present an overview of the project and its expected outcomes. At 9 a.m., he will be available to answer questions. Light refreshments will be served after the presentation.


KRWG News - Inside The Southwest’s Newest Climate Change Hub

By Sloan Patton - Dave Thatcher has been working at the Jornada Experimental Range ever since he graduated from NMSU about 25 years ago. As the supervisory range technician, he is responsible for making sure all the equipment sends readings back for scientists and researchers to collect.

The leader of the hub, Albert Rango, is on NMSU’s campus, spearheading collecting all that information that will help farmers and ranchers. “There was a time when not many people including scientists believed that climate change was happening…most recent survey shows…over 50 percent of the general public believes that climate change is happening and that humans are causing it.”

See KRWG news clip ...


KDBC CBS - USDA "Climate Hub' to be Set Up at Jornada Experimental Range

LAS CRUCES, N.M. — The Las Cruces area is one of seven locations selected for a first of its kind 'climate hub' by the United States Department of Agriculture. The Southwestern hub will be at the Jornada Experimental Range about 45 minutes north of Las Cruces where research will study climate change and the effects on the land.

"We have collected the data for a long period of time and we're quite interested in all these things going on around us," said Research Hydrologist Al Rango. Rango studies how snowpack builds up in the during the cold season and melts as temperatures warm up. He also looks at how the soil holds moisture and does a lot of his work at the Jornada. "Climate change studies have shown we're going to have more extreme events and that means more droughts but also it means more flooding," Rango said. He added the goal of his research and that of others is to learn about climate change and then eventually recommend to farmers, ranchers and forrest landowners what they can do to help alleviate those changes. Read more ...

See KDBC TV news clip ...


Official Press Release from USDA -

Secretary Vilsack Announces Regional Hubs to Help Agriculture, Forestry Mitigate the Impacts of a Changing Climate

'Climate Hubs' will provide regional networks on climate science, forecasting impacts, and outreach to support agricultural and forestry communities around the country.

WASHINGTON, Feb. 5, 2014—Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today the locations for seven Regional Hubs for Risk Adaptation and Mitigation to Climate Change. “Climate Hubs” will address increasing risks such as fires, invasive pests, devastating floods, and crippling droughts on a regional basis, aiming to translate science and research into information to farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners on ways to adapt and adjust their resource management.The Secretary first announced his intention to create the Hubs last summer and announced the locations today in Washington, D.C.

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The New York Times - Next Phase of Obama's Executive Push: Climate Hubs

WASHINGTON — On the heels of the Senate’s passage of a long-awaited farm bill, the Obama administration is to announce on Wednesday the creation of seven regional “climate hubs” aimed at helping farmers and rural communities respond to the risks of climate change, including drought, invasive pests, fires and floods. White House officials describe the move as one of several executive actions that President Obama will take on climate change without action from Congress.

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Blog by Secretary Vilsack - USDA’s Climate Hubs: Providing Targeted Solutions to Modern Challenges

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New Mexico State University News Center - Las Cruces selected as USDA Southwest Regional Climate Hub

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today the locations for seven Regional Hubs for Risk Adaptation and Mitigation to Climate Change. “Climate Hubs” will address increasing risks such as fires, invasive pests, devastating floods and crippling droughts on a regional basis, aiming to translate science and research into information to farmers, ranchers and forest landowners on ways to adapt and adjust their resource management.

“For generations, America's farmers, ranchers and forest landowners have innovated and adapted to challenges. Today, they face a new and more complex threat in the form of a changing and shifting climate, which impacts both our nation's forests and our farmers' bottom lines," said Vilsack. "USDA's Climate Hubs are part of our broad commitment to developing the next generation of climate solutions, so that our agricultural leaders have the modern technologies and tools they need to adapt and succeed in the face of a changing climate."

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World - Udall: Jornada 'Climate Hub' Will Help N.M. Farmers And Ranchers Adapt To Climate Changes (Tom Udall)


Press Release - Udall: Jornada 'Climate Hub' will Help N.M. Farmers and Ranchers Adapt to Climate Changes

Hub will provide tools to help farmers, agriculture jobs and the economy February 5, 2014

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Tom Udall issued the following statement on President Obama's decision to name the Jornada Experimental Range in Las Cruces, N.M., the U.S. Department of Agriculture Southwest "climate hub." As a climate hub, it will provide information to rural communities in New Mexico, California, Utah, Nevada and Arizona about the impacts of climate change. Udall and Senator Martin Heinrich wrote to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in October in support of the Jornada Experimental Range's application.

"Difficult conditions are nothing new to New Mexico farmers and ranchers, who have have always needed to adapt and innovate to stay ahead. But in the last several years, drought, intensified by our changing climate, has increased the challenges. The Jornada Experimental Range has helped keep our rangeland healthy for the last century by supplying the latest research and information. It's a natural location for the Southwest climate hub, where it will be a source for cutting-edge resources and technology to help New Mexico and Southwestern farmers and ranchers access the tools they need to manage risks and adapt to the increasingly shifting and changing climate.

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Las Cruces Sun News (Staff and Wire Reports) - Obama administration announces 'climate hub' in Las Cruces - New center based at Jornada Range

WASHINGTON >> Climate change is already hurting American farmers and rural residents, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Wednesday, warning 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 nation by surprise, putting ranchers and others out of business. He pointed to the intensity and frequency of recent storms, long droughts, snowstorms and subzero weather as evidence that climate change is no longer hypothetical or in the future.

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Check out the talks from the Southern U.S. Dust Monitoring and Mitigation Symposium 2018


Posters presented at the 2015 AGU (American Geophysical Union) Meeting in San Francisco, CA
Connecting stakeholders with climate science: Farmer, rancher and forester climate data needs and climate change attitudes Impact of projected mid-century temperatures on common southwestern specialty and field crops Climate Change and the Water Cycle: A New Southwest Regional Climate Hub Unit for 6th-12th Grade Students




Listen to and view presentations from the CalCAN 4th California Climate and Agriculture Summit held in March 2015 at UC Davis

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The Summit explored the science, policy and practice of climate change and sustainable agriculture in California. Participants include farmers and ranchers, agency staff, technical service providers, policymakers and advocates concerned with climate change challenges and opportunities for California agriculture.