Extension gets $4.1 million to study climate, animal ag issues

jbrehm2, July 15, 2011 | View original publication

Extension gets $4.1 million to study climate, animal ag issues

University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension has been awarded $4.1 million from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture for a five-year project addressing climate change and animal agriculture issues. Five other land-grant universities are partnering in the project that will be facilitated through the Livestock and Poultry Environmental Learning Center.

"A wide range of beliefs exist about climate change and there are strong and varied reactions to proposals for countering global warming, which creates challenges for those involved in agricultural policymaking, product marketing and research," said Rick Stowell, UNL Extension engineer and the project's director.

"As often is the case, livestock and poultry producers are in the position of having to prepare, to adapt and respond to conditions that might be imposed on them — whether it's due to the potential impacts of more extreme weather patterns and other climate trends, or to prospective policies that may place attention on greenhouse gas emissions from their operations," Stowell said.

Extension has a key role in facilitating and informing discussions about climate change relative to animal agriculture, said Crystal Powers, UNL Extension engineer and extension team coordinator.

The overall goal of the proposed project is for Extension, working with partner organizations, to effectively inform and influence livestock and poultry producers and consumers of animal products in all regions of the U.S. to move animal production toward practices that are environmentally sound, climatically compatible and economically viable, she said.

A primary desired outcome is that stakeholder decisions result in reduced greenhouse gas emissions without sacrificing America's capacity to produce meat, milk, eggs and other animal products.

The project will:

— equip extension personnel and stakeholder representatives to assess stakeholder needs relative to climate change mitigation and adaptation and to deliver educational programs that target those needs;

— provide web access to science-based information, educational resources and decision-support tools to stakeholder groups and the public on climate change related to animal agriculture; and

— coordinate efforts so information and resources are used appropriately at the state, regional and national levels.

Other land-grant universities involved in the project include: Washington State University, Texas A&M University, University of Georgia, Cornell University and the University of Minnesota.

For more information contact Powers at (402) 472-0888, cpowers2@unl.edu.

The funding is part of NIFA's Agriculture and Food Research Initiative competitive grants program.