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Southwest Region Newsletter 
Spring 2014 
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  National News & Events

Mark your calendars! 2015 Waste to Worth Conference, Seattle, WA, March 30-April 3.
Click here for details.

The Livestock and Poultry Environmental Learning Center
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Welcome to the Animal Agriculture and Climate Change - Southwest Region Web Letter. Scroll down for new educational opportunities, current news and relevant information regarding animal agriculture and climate change. We encourage you to forward this newsletter to others who share an interest in learning more about this topic. 


If you know of any regional research efforts that should be shared, please inform David Smith at [email protected]  



New AACC project web site ( gives educators access to videos, fact sheets, and other resources on a variety of climate-related issues relevant to livestock and poultry producers. Check out these new fact sheets available for download:



Register here for the Animal Agriculture & Climate Change On-line Course.


This free 12-hour, self-paced course is specially designed for Extension educators and technical services 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. New course sessions start at the beginning of each month.

Students who complete the course are eligible for 10 Certified Crop Adviser (CCA) and 8 American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists (ARPAS) continuing education credits.
Course monitor photo
Climate: No Spin. Just Facts.
The Climate Science On-line Course is now available on eXtension Online Campus.

This free 2-hour, self-directed course covers basic terminology and concepts, climate reconstruction  methods, climate monitoring and recent trends, and the basics of climate modeling. After completing the course you will be better prepared to process and interpret information discussed in literature and in the media.

Click here and enter search term "climate" to enroll.  
Recent Headlines
White House releases plan to cut methane emissions - announces partnership with dairy industry

In his recently released Climate Action Plan, President Obama directed the Administration to develop a comprehensive, interagency strategy to cut methane emissions. Steps are planned to address methane emissions in landfills, coal mines, agriculture, and oil & gas sectors.

This summer the USDA, EPA and the DOE in partnership with the dairy industry will jointly release a "Biogas Roadmap" outlining voluntary strategies to accelerate adoption of methane digesters and other cost-effective technologies to reduce U.S. dairy sector greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020. USDA and EPA will also continue to support biodigester technology deployment by providing financial and technical assistance through voluntary programs.

The Administration's Climate Action Plan can be downloaded here.

Secretary Vilsack announces locations of Regional Climate Hubs
Regional Hubs for Risk Adaptation and Mitigation to Climate Change at seven locations around the country will address increasing risks such as fires, invasive pests, devastating floods, and crippling droughts on a regional basis, aiming to translate science and research into information to farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners on ways to adapt and adjust their resource management.The Hubs were chosen through a competitive process among USDA facilities. In addition to the seven Hubs, USDA is designating three Subsidiary Hubs ("Sub Hubs") that will function within the Southeast, Midwest, and Southwest. The Sub Hubs will support the Hub within their region and focus on a narrow and unique set of issues relative to what will be going on in the rest of the Hub. Hub locations are:

  • Midwest: National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment, Agricultural Research Service, Ames, Iowa
  • Midwest Sub-Hub in Houghton, Mich.
  • Northeast: Northern Research Station, Forest Service, Durham, N.H.
  • Southeast: Southern Research Station, Forest Service, Raleigh N.C.
  • Southeast Sub-Hub in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico
  • Northern Plains: National Resources Center, Agricultural Research Service, Fort Collins, Colo.
  • Southern Plains: Grazinglands Research Lab, Agricultural Research Service, El Reno, Okla.
  • Pacific Northwest: Pacific Northwest Research Station, Forest Service, Corvallis, Ore.
  • Southwest: Rangeland Management Unit/Jornada Experimental Range, Agricultural Research Service, Las Cruces, N.M.
  • Southwest Sub-hub in Davis, Calif. 

Click here to learn more about the USDA Climate Hubs.

The map below shows the regional designation of USDA Climate Hubs.


Southwest News   


Climate Change and the Current Drought in the Southwest (Rocky Mountain Post) Is the current drought caused by climate change? Here's an interesting perspective considering temperature, precipitation, and past experience.       


Texans try to cope with lingering hangover from record drought (E & E Publishing) After Texas' historic drought in 2011, many farmers and ranchers in the state had hoped their dry spell would be over by now. However, the impacts continue to mount and the near-term outlook is for more of the same. 

Tensions over Rio Grande Escalate with Drought (Silver City Sun) Water managers from New Mexico, Colorado and Texas recently heard from a steady stream of federal experts that the Rio Grande has been stretched beyond its limits, leaving little for farmers, cities and endangered fish to fight over as the drought continues.


Climate change could benefit some invasive plants (The Fence Post) Though scientists don't yet know how exactly the climate will change, new studies show it could be a boon to some invasive plant species, causing a lot of headache for cattle ranchers.

Other Headlines & Reports


Study: Farm efficiency more critical than quitting meat (Climate Central) The study, recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, claims if livestock producers used their land more efficiently by feeding cattle more high-energy food and using less land for grazing, they can reduce greenhouse gas emissions more effectively than if consumers across the globe consumed less meat and milk. See the complete study here.

IPCC AR5 Working Group II Summary for Policymakers - Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability (released March 30, 2014).

Tackling Climate Change through Livestock. A global assessment of emissions and mitigation opportunities. (FAO Report, 2013) 


Weather & Climate Data

NOAA National Climatic Data Center - Climate at a Glance -
Using actual data collected since 1895, plot trends in temperature, precipitation, cooling and heating degree days, and various drought indices over the contiguous US, climatic regions, or individual states. This is a great tool for producing charts to use in presentations and documents.

Southern Climate Impacts Planning Program (SCIPP) -  The "average monthly temperature and precipitation tool"
displays information on how a particular year's temperature or precipitation records compare to normal (i.e., 30-year average for the period 1971-2000). Users can view the information in a graph format by climate division for any state in the United States. A mouse-over function allows the user to view monthly values.

The 'historical climate trends tool"
displays precipitation and temperature trends for the period of the instrumental record, 1895-Present. Users can view the long term average (1971-2000), 5-year moving average, and yearly average by climate division and season for any state in the United States. - This site includes multiple sources of global land, ocean, and satellite temperature data and allows you to plot and compare average global temperature and trends over time.

U.S. Drought Portal - Access and interact with drought and climate related data, including maps and graphing capabilities, to help understand drought and how it changes over time.  
NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory - Here is direct link to daily CO2 data being recorded at Mauna Loa, Hawaii. This is the source for CO2 as reported in the media. Scientists have continually measured CO2 at this location since 1959.
About the Animal Agriculture & Climate Change Project


This mission of this project is to develop national Extension capacity to address issues related to animal agriculture and climate change. Our goal is to provide education and build partnerships that foster animal production practices that are environmentally sound, climatically compatible, and economically viable.  


This project is supported by Agricultural and Food Research Initiative Competitive Grant No. 2011-67003-30206 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. 

Know of anyone who should receive this email? Please contact:
David W. Smith 
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service 
Department of Biological & Agricultural Engineering 
College Station, Texas 77843-2121 
(979) 862-1989