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$300K USDA grant feeds Cal Poly Pomona research on how California farmers can adjust to climate change

CBS News Los Angeles: The Rundown (Aug. 19 AM Edition)
CBS News Los Angeles: The Rundown (Aug. 19 AM Edition) 03:02

How will climate change impact California's farming industry? A research project at Cal Poly Pomona will aim to figure that out with a $300,000 grant from the USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

More than a third of the nation's vegetables and two-thirds of the country's fruits and nuts are grown in California, which is mired in a historic drought forcing some farmers to switch to growing less water-intensive crops. The grant will help Cal Poly Pomona researchers bring climate change research to farmers growing California's best known crops — grapes, strawberries, and citrus fruits, all three of which are billion-dollar industries.

"Given that climate change is happening so fast, climate conditions ask, 'How can farmers plan for it?'" Gabriel Granco, lead investigator and a geography professor, said in a statement. "Are we using areas that we will maintain or remain suitable? Are we developing new areas in locations that would not be suitable in the future? One point for us is to define suitability — to have the appropriate or good climate, soil and good terrain for the crops to grow."

The project will send students out into the fields to collect data. The project will also bring in USDA national and state satellite data along with information gleaned from other local agricultural sites, including Cal Poly Pomona's Spadra Farm and the nearby Huntley Vineyard. 

Data collection that started this summer will continue through 2024.

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