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Research Project: Enhancing Climate-Smart Agriculture in the Southern Plains

Location: Oklahoma and Central Plains Agricultural Research Center (ocparc)

Project Number: 3070-12610-001-004-I
Project Type: Interagency Reimbursable Agreement

Start Date: Sep 1, 2022
End Date: Sep 30, 2024

Objective:
1. Undertake a series of “climate conversations” with NRCS, state conservation agency and partnership personnel on the use of conservation planning and existing NRCS programs as tools to help agricultural producers adapt to climate challenges, such as droughts, floods and wildfires, while building operational resilience. This effort will provide an understanding of current NRCS and partnership personnel of challenges and opportunities farmers and ranchers are facing from climate change. These conversations will also identify effective pathways to ensure NRCS staff and partners have the relevant tools necessary to serve their cooperators. In addition, these conversations can support cooperators in dealing with climate issues through existing conservation programs and conservation planning. This includes a better understanding of outreach to tribal and historically underserved communities in our region. 2. Continued outreach efforts to help agricultural producers integrate climate-smart agriculture to support climate change mitigation and adaptation. These outreach efforts will better inform producers and our stakeholders of what assistance and opportunities are available from NRCS, other USDA agencies, and state and local partners, including on urban conservation. Activities will include online efforts such as blogs, videos and podcasts, as well as in-person events such as seminars and farm shows. A survey will also be developed for in-person events designed to determine the climate awareness of producers and their knowledge of NRCS programs and assistance, ultimately ensuring effective delivery of NRCS programs to producers. 3. Continued support of ongoing efforts to help Tribal members, Tribal Governments, minority groups, and historically underserved communities expand their knowledge of climate-smart agricultural strategies and NRCS programs through assistance and facilitation of partner activities including seminars, field days and other outreach efforts. This outreach will also ensure more equitable access and delivery of programs, tools, and technology, and strengthen partnerships to effectively deliver assistance.

Approach:
Conduct 5 regional and one state-wide NRCS/Conservation partnership “climate conversations” in the region. Project will be designed to determine climate awareness among personnel, help them better to use existing programs and initiatives to help cooperators deal with climate change, and help staff design strategies and tools to better aid agriculture and rural communities deal with these challenges. Prepare documentation on adaptability of climate conversations to all states in the region. Produce at least two podcasts per month and one blog per week designed to expand knowledge of NRCS and other USDA climate adaptation and mitigation efforts. Products will showcase on-the-ground efforts by producers to manage climate challenges. These will also highlight innovative partnerships in helping farmers, ranchers, and rural communities manage climate change. Produce 6 companion videos highlighting these efforts including in urban and underserved communities. Hold at least one producer meeting in the region showcasing soil health as a tool for climate change adaptation and mitigation. Help support Tribal and underserved community outreach efforts with NRCS and other partners by holding or facilitating at least two outreach meetings on climate change mitigation and adaptation in the region. Participation from historically black land-grant universities (i.e., 1890 institutions) in the region will be targeted. Attend at least three farm shows in the region to expand producer awareness and to conduct survey at booth to determine the climate change knowledge of those in attendance and their understanding of how NRCS programs can help them address climate change.