USDA Adaptation Resources for Agriculture: Responding to Climate Variability and Change in the Midwest and Northeast

This USDA report provides information and resources to help farmers prepare for and respond to the regional impacts of climate change. The report summarizes the effects of climate change on agriculture and natural resources in the Midwest and Northeast U.S. and overviews strategic options for climate adaptation in agriculture.  The USDA provides new resources to bring climate change planning to the farm - including adaptation strategies and approaches, an adaptation workbook, and examples for assessing and planning.

The report is focused on integrating climate change information into short-term management (< 5 years) and long-range planning (5 to 20 or more years), decision-making, and implementation actions within the control of agricultural producers.  It provides information to work on the scale of “farms and fields” where an agricultural producer has control for decision-making and action.

The Adaptation Strategies and Approaches chapter synthesizes farm- and local landscape-level climate adaptation strategies as a “menu”of potential responses. Eight broad strategies, each with their own more specific approaches are provided. For example - Strategy 4: “Reduce the risk and long-term impacts of extreme weather” gives  the following approaches with detailed descriptions and example adaptation tactics for each:

Approach 4.1: Reduce peak flow, runoff velocity, and soil erosion.

Approach 4.2: Reduce severity or extent of water-saturated soil and flood damage.

Approach 4.3: Reduce severity or extent of wind damage to soils and crops.

By using the Adaptation Workbook (Chapter 4), producers can select relevant adaptation strategies and approaches, and adjust and refine these to develop their own prescriptive methods in a specific location. The Workbook provides a structured process to consider potential climate change impacts, management challenges and opportunities, and climate adaptation responses.

Chapter 5: Adaptation Workbook Examples - demonstrates how to use the Adaptation Workbook together with regional Adaptation Strategies and Approaches to develop tactics for real-world farm operations within the Midwest and Northeast. Four examples of typical farming systems in the region implementing adaptation measures for climate impacts are given as complete case studies - for step-by-step analysis:

  • dryland farming in Nebraska,
  • corn and soybean production in Iowa,
  • small holder beef grazing and forestry in Missouri, and
  • a confined dairy in Pennsylvania.


A team of authors from the Agriculture Research Service, the U.S. Forest Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service worked together through USDA’s Climate Hubs for the Midwest, Northeast and Northern Forests to assemble the report. Educators, conservationists, and climate, agricultural and forestry scientists participated in workshops to test the concepts, translate them into easy to use worksheets, and develop these real-world examples.



Publication Date: October 2016

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Resource Types:

  • Best practice
  • Planning guides


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