Ag Secretary Vilsack supports initiative on Climate Smart Agriculture

Bryce Bradford_F E A R

With Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) practices, farmers and ranchers constantly adjust to weather variability to assure their economic and ecological resilience.

CSA is a major U.S. Department of Agriculture initiative, and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack visited campus on May 20 to discuss CSA initiatives at CSU, a followup to a daylong forum held on campus May 5.

The Colorado Water Institute hosts the Nation's 30th Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, May 20, 2016.
The Colorado Water Institute hosts the Nation’s 30th Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, May 20, 2016.

Vilsack shared his assessment of global climate change and the challenges confronting global food production and distribution. He applauded CSU’s engagement with Colorado producers as well as USDA’s Northern Great Plains Climate Hub, located at the Agricultural Research Service in Fort Collins. CSU is a partner in the Climate Hub with land-grant universities in Montana, Wyoming, North and South Dakota and Nebraska. The Secretary visited the Climate Hub and the USDA’s ARS office in Fort Collins prior to his on campus meeting.

In addition to recognizing the efforts of the Climate Hub and CSU’s research, teaching and engagement climate programs, Vilsack answered a broad array of questions from a small group of agricultural leaders who had also attended the May 5 forum.

CSA initiatives

CSU leaders emphasized that its CSA initiatives enhance partnerships with Colorado producers, where ideally farmers and ranchers will take the lead in working with their neighbors. CSU Extension, the Colorado Water Institute (CWI) and the College of Agricultural Sciences are actively seeking collaborations with farmers and ranchers and their respective organizations.

“These initiatives are focused on improving Colorado’s food systems and food value chains as they adapt to variable weather and climate,” said Lou Swanson, vice president for CSU’s Office of Engagement. “The College of Agricultural Sciences and our Office of Community and Economic Development have programs focused on agriculture and food systems innovations that are equally impactful in rural and urban areas of Colorado.”

Faculty from a variety of colleges and departments, along with CWI and CSU Extension, are providing the primary engagement and outreach programing for these CSA initiatives. A principal program goal, in collaboration with Colorado’s farmers and ranchers and their organizations, is to improve their economic and ecological adaptability and resilience as weather patterns change. A guiding engagement principle is emphasis on co-creating programs and developing applied research with farming and ranching communities.

Both USDA and CSU are founding and active members of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s Global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture.

More information on CSA and CSU’s initiatives, including identifying faculty and staff working in this area is available on the Engagement website.

The Spring 2016 issue of the magazine Colorado Water, dedicated to Climate Smart Agriculture, is available online