Vilsack also announced the release of USDA's Climate Change Science Plan. The plan's objective is to incorporate management of the challenges created by climate change into the scientific missions of USDA. It provides a guide for the department on scientific priorities to better serve USDA stakeholders by providing them with information about the impact of climate change and it outlines options to mitigate emissions and help producers adapt to expected change.

In addition, the secretary announced that institutions in seven states were awarded federal funding for research on the economics of reducing agricultural GHG emissions. USDA will fund studies to examine the economics of agricultural participation in proposed greenhouse gas markets, including the potential impacts on GHG reduction. The projects will help identify cost-effective ways farmers can reduce emissions and also help design the incentives for their participation in greenhouse gas markets or other agricultural programs.

He also noted that the U.S. Forest Service, which manages 193 million acres of forest and grasslands, has taken a number of steps over the last year to integrate climate change considerations into day-to-day operations. A scorecard has been developed to measure the progress of each of the National Forests and Grasslands in integrating climate change considerations into forest management. Also, the Forest Service has developed a National Roadmap for Responding to Climate Change to make forests more resilient to climate change impacts, manage greenhouse gas emissions and increase carbon storage. As part of the scorecard and the roadmap development, the Forest Service is integrating climate change into a new National Planning Rule that will govern the way management plans are written for all National Forests.

Vilsack underscored USDA's commitment to working with international partners through the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases, which was launched a year ago at the Copenhagen Climate Change meeting. The alliance is focused on identifying ways to sustain and improve food production systems, while reducing GHG emissions.