U.S. Department of Agriculture

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, rural development, nutrition, and related issues based on public policy, the best available science, and effective management. The USDA ensures that there is a safe and ample food supply and rural prosperity.

USDA science supports monitoring efforts in Alaska. Beginning in 1995, soil climate monitoring stations were established on the North Slope of Alaska. Data from these stations are recorded every hour. These stations assess seasonal thaw characteristics and active-layer depths of permafrost soils and snowpack. Data from the Soil Climate Analysis Network (SCAN) and Snow Telemetry (SNOTEL) stations in Alaska can be accessed and downloaded. The U.S. Forest Service accesses the fire regime in the Alaska tundra. Research with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (USDA APHIS) has looked at how Arctic wildlife, such as polar bears, may serve as sentinels for pathogens and contaminants, providing insight into changing Arctic ecosystems and health risks to wildlife and humans.

The USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) supports work in the region through Federally-Recognized Tribes Extension Program (FRTEP) which funds extension programs on American Indian reservations and tribal jurisdictions and the Tribal Colleges Research Grants Program (TCRGP) which supports building institutional research capacity through projects that address student educational needs and meet community, reservation, or regional challenges. The USDA also supports the Alaska Native-Serving and Native Hawaiian-Serving Institutions Education Competitive Grants Program to promote and strengthen the ability of Alaska Native-Serving Institutions and Native Hawaiian-Serving Institutions to carry out education, applied research, and related community development programs.

USDA research in the Arctic includes contributions from the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), the Forest Service (USDA-FS), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and Rural Development (RD). Together the many USDA research and programmatic entities help ensure sustained food security for the nation and the world. They maintain and enhance the health of U.S. forests, rangelands, and natural resources while identifying ways to manage the risks and vulnerabilities ranging from temperature and precipitation extremes to the changing biology of pests, invasive species, increased wildfire intensity and extent, and diseases.

Where would one go to find out what research is being funded by your agency in the Arctic?

The USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

Where would one go to read about scientific research results from your agency?

The USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the USDA Agricultural Research Service.

Does your agency have office(s) in Alaska?

  • Farm Service Agency (FSA): The primary mission of the Farm Service Agency is to assist Alaska farmers and ranchers secure the greatest possible benefit from programs administered by FSA such as farm loans, commodity price support, disaster relief, conservation, reimbursable transportation cost payment program (RTCP), or other available resources.
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS): The Natural Resources Conversation Service helps Alaskans conserve, improve, sustain, and protect their natural resources.
  • Rural Development (RD): Rural Development supports rural prosperity in Alaska by investing in modern infrastructure such as high-speed internet, electric service, and water and waste treatment systems. Rural Development also provides assistance to eligible rural Alaskans to purchase or rent affordable housing. Rural Development partners with communities to build or improve essential facilities such as hospitals, first responder stations, libraries, and schools. They also boost rural economic development by funding technical assistance for small business owners and entrepreneurs, helping design robust business plans, find new markets, and promote their goods and services. 
  • U.S. Forest Service (USFS): The mission of the U.S. Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. Currently the U.S. Forest Service in Alaska is working on the new Southeast Alaska Sustainability Strategy to support a diverse economy, enhance community resilience, and conserve natural resources in Southeast Alaska on the Tongass National Forest. The National Forest Foundation and the Forest Service are also working in partnership to repair, reconstruct, and construct public use recreation cabins in Alaska’s national forests.
  • Risk Management Agency (RMA): The Risk Management Agency is committed to increasing the availability and effectiveness of federal crop insurance as a risk management tool to  strengthen the economic stability of agricultural producers and rural Alaska communities.
  • Food and Nutrition Service (FNS): Food and Nutrition Service’s mission is to increase food security and reduce hunger in partnership with cooperating organizations by providing children and low-income people access to food, a healthy diet, and nutrition education in a manner that supports American agriculture and inspires public confidence.   
  • Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) State Plant Health and Veterinary Services: APHIS is an agency with many missions vital to the health and welfare of plants and animals in rural Alaska. For many years, APHIS has worked with Native Alaska producers and Tribes to help safeguard their agricultural livestock, crops, and natural resources from disease, pests, and wildlife damage. 


Dave Hoover
Acting Director
National Weather and Climate Center
USDA National Resource Conservation Service

Heather Dawn Thompson
Office of Tribal Relations

External Links

IARPC Collaborations Links