Although the Senate finally passed the long-awaited Farm Bill on Tuesday, the Obama administration has plans to bypass the sluggish, gridlocked legislative branch to help farms face climate change. The White House announced on Wednesday that the administration aims to establish seven regional “climate hubs” to assist rural communities in the event of floods, droughts, fires, soil degradation, and pest damage.
The climate hubs will be located in Las Cruces, New Mexico; Ames, Iowa; Durham, New Hampshire; El Reno, Oklahoma; Fort Collins, Colorado, and Corvallis, Oregon. Each hub will occupy existing USDA facilities, which means they will require no extra financial backing, and will be tasked with transmitting climate data to farmers in order to help them adjust to heat spikes, shorter and more accelerated growing seasons, and wetter springs.
The President hopes that creating these safeguards against climate change will garner political support for tackling larger issues, such as the EPA’s regulation of coal-fired power plants and promotion of renewables. The agency is currently writing laws that could potentially close hundreds of coal plants around the nation.
Since most Republican farming communities tend to have a negative view of the EPA due to its restrictions on pesticides, water, and land use, the administration may be looking to rework their image with residents of the farm belt who suffered from the devastating drought of 2012. Environmentalists have given the climate hub initiatives high marks, but caution that the actions should not divert attention from the Keystone XL Pipeline.