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Western Region
August 16 2013
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The Livestock and Poultry Environmental Learning Center


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Welcome to the Animal Agriculture in a Changing Climate Western Region Web Letter. Scroll down for current news and relevant information regarding climate change and agriculture that you might have missed. 


Do you have or know of any regional research efforts that should be highlight and shared? Please inform Liz Whitefield at e.whitefield@wsu.edu

NEW AACC Online Course!
The official start date for the online course is September 3, 2013. This 12-hour, self paced course is specifically designed for Extension educators and technical service providers across the nation who serve livestock and poultry producers. Topics include recent weather trends, climate impacts, adaptation and risk management, basic climate science, greenhouse gas emissions and mitigation practices, the basics of carbon markets, and communication strategies for dealing with this contentious issue. Please visit the project website below below to view the introductory video, read the course brochure and syllabus, and to register for the course.


Mitigation of GHG Emissions in Livestock Production
New FAO Report (FAO, August 2013)
The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, along with many other global experts, contributed its expertise in the preparation of a comprehensive technical report on greenhouse gas mitigation practices from various livestock sectors globally. The report includes an exhaustive review of the literature referencing more than 900 publications on greenhouse gas mitigation for both enteric fermentation and manure management. It provides critical information needed to conduct more specific and quantitative analyses on mitigation practices and also highlights the most promising practices according to their effectiveness and feasibility for adoption. This comprehensive, state-of-the-art review will be a valuable resource for anyone interested in advancing greenhouse gas mitigation.
Western Region Wildfires:
Across the West, 34 major wildfires were burning in 11 states, with Idaho bearing the brunt of the wildfire activity with 12 wildfires within its borders.  Gusty winds and extremely low humidity contributed to additional fires and fire growth in Idaho.  Since yesterday, another eight wildfires have broken out-one each in Alaska, Oregon and Utah; three in Idaho; and two in Montana, according to the August 16 daily summary at the National Interagency Fire Center.

Idaho Ranchers Work Tirelessly to Keep Cattle Out of the Path of Wildfire (KVTB, August 13)
"What we are experiencing is just as real and even more devastating," explains Hunt, third generation ID rancher. "Most of these ranchers are smaller ranchers and family oriented, and they are looking at a loss of their livelihood for the next three years." She said for every cow that the ranch loses, that is money also lost. The cowboys are working endless hours, day and night and right on the fire line. Hunt said they are herding the cattle away from the direction of the fire, and they are also trying to stay ahead of it.


Drought Impacts


Klamath (OR) Drought Forces Ranchers to Move Cattle (Capital Press, August 15)
On Aug. 1 and 2, Marc Bourdet had to send 1,100 head of cattle off his family's ranch on Modoc Point to greener pastures. It took 17 truckloads to move the cattle to better grazing ground north, in the Klamath Marsh area. "I can't believe this is happening," he said is what kept rolling through his mind. "It was an emotional day," agreed his mother, Linda Long. This year, for the first time, Bourdet chose to lease the land from his parents to run cattle "on the gain." That means someone else owns the cattle, but while they graze on Bourdet's land they gain weight. Bourdet is paid for the pounds the cattle gain.


Demand High for Montana Hay in Drought-bit Western States, Midwest
(The MT Standard, August 11)
Montana hay is selling for a premium this year in drought-bit Western states and the Midwest, where lingering winter temperatures wilted spring alfalfa like bagged spinach from a deep freeze.Depending on quality, producers are getting $180 to $250 a ton. Shipping not included. Irrigated hay is rolling out of the state every direction but north.


Strategies for Shortage of Forage (Dairy Herd, August 8)

With lingering drought in many areas, the forage supply may be limited. Quality has also been an issue. In general, first cutting of hay crop forage this year resulted in good yields of typical quality forage. Yet, now with the continuous and heavy rains in many areas of the Midwest, second cutting has been delayed. With the heat and moisture this summer, growth of the corn for silage is well advanced. However, limited forage supply from 2012, delayed second cutting of the hay crop, and the fact that corn silage harvest is still several weeks away means that many farms will need to stretch their forage supply.


Idaho Farmers Take Action on Climate Change
Farmers Speak About Climate Change's Impact on Ag (Capital Press, July 29)
Several Idaho farmers told Boise residents that extreme weather and drought are negatively impacting Idaho agriculture and asked them to support efforts to combat climate change. They joined elected officials and other food industry representatives during a presentation at the Boise Farmers Market designed to raise awareness of climate change and support efforts to limit carbon emissions.


Renewable Energy on Farms Study Released


First to Look at Role of State-Level Policies (USDA, August 2013)

USDA has published a study examining states' adoption rates of distributed generation for solar and wind energy on U.S. farms. The results show that states with higher energy prices, more organic acres per farm, and more internet connectivity adopt renewable electricity at higher rates.  For solar systems, full-farm ownership and solar resources were also significant factors.  Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) targets were found to increase state level renewable electricity adoption at the distributed-generation scale while electric cooperative prevalence in the state was found to have a negative relationship to renewable electricity adoption share.


General Interest


Extreme Weather Events Fuel Climate Change (Science Daily, August 14) In 2003, Central and Southern Europe sweltered in a heat wave that set alarm bells ringing for researchers. It was one of the first large-scale extreme weather events which scientists were able to use to document in detail how heat and drought affected the carbon cycle. Measurements indicated that the extreme weather events had a much greater impact on the carbon balance than had previously been assumed. It is possible that droughts, heat waves and storms weaken the buffer effect exerted by terrestrial ecosystems on the climate system. In the past 50 years, plants and the soil have absorbed up to 30% of the carbon dioxide that humans have set free, primarily from fossil fuels.


Regional USDA Climate Hubs


USDA Climate Hubs (USDA)

USDA's Regional Hubs will deliver science-based knowledge and practical information to farmers, ranchers and forest landowners within each region of the United States to support decision-making related to climate change. These Hubs are needed to maintain and strengthen agricultural production, natural resource management, and rural economic development under increasing climate variability. The Hubs will build capacity within USDA to deliver information and guidance on technologies and risk management practices at regional and local scales. 

Know of anyone who should receive this email? Please contact:
Liz Whitefield
Washington State University
Livestock Nutrient Management Program