USDA 2014 Climate Change Adaptation Plan

The 2014 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Climate Change Adaptation Plan presents strategies and actions to address the effects of climate change on key mission areas including agricultural production, food security, rural development, and forestry and natural resources conservation. The Plan includes input from eleven USDA agencies and offices.  It provides a detailed vulnerability assessment, reviews the elements of USDA’s mission that are at risk from climate change, and provides specific actions and steps being taken to build resilience to climate change. 

The assessment predicts key near-term climate change effects on agricultural soil and water resources including the potential for increased soil erosion through extreme precipitation events, as well as regional and seasonal changes in the availability of water resources for both rain-fed and irrigated agriculture. Changing pressures associated with weeds, diseases, and insect pests, together with potential changes in timing and coincidence of pollinator lifecycles, will affect growth and yields. There is also a focus on the uncertainty of the agricultural system response to increasing climatic variability - recognizing the complexity of interactions between the agricultural systems, non-climate stressors in the global climate system, and the increasing rate and intensity of climatic change.

Each of the USDA agencies provided their Agency Climate Change Adaptation Plans. These agencies are: Agricultural Research Service (ARS), Animal, Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Economic Research Service (ERS), Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), Farm Service Agency (FSA), Forest Service (FS), National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Rural Development (RD), Risk Management Agency (RMA), and the Climate Change Program Office (CCPO).

The U.S. Forest Service Adaptation Plan recognizes climate impacts on forests along with strategies for adaptation. Both direct and indirect climate change impacts will determine the most significant short-term effects on forest ecosystems. Primarily caused by altered disturbance regimes, these compounding effects include wildfires, insect infestations, pulses of erosion and flooding, and drought-induced tree mortality.


President Obama’s 2009 Executive Order 13514 required each federal agency to issue a Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan setting new sustainability standards for operations, and directed agencies to improve their environmental, energy and economic performance. Under this E.O. and the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) Implementing Instructions, agencies also were required to submit a Climate Adaptation Plan for implementation in 2013.

E.O. 13653 directs federal agencies to build on existing agency Adaptation Plans first issued in 2013, by continuing "to develop, implement, and update comprehensive plans that integrate consideration of climate change into agency operations and overall mission objectives."



Publication Date: 2014

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  • Adaptation plan
  • Assessment
  • Progress report


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