global warming

Abby Wendle

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's new plan offers incentives to farmers who volunteer to take steps that would help cut agriculture's contribution to climate change.

Speaking to an audience at Michigan State University, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the new plan will give farmers, ranchers, and foresters the technical support and financial incentive to implement more conservation measures on their land and in their operations.

Climate change is not just an abstract, an inconvenience, or a disaster limited to Arctic ice or coastal populations during superstorms like Hurricane Sandy. Illinois is already affected and climate change could hurt us all worse. The saying “think global, act local” is recalled, but there are no simple or easy answers.

The US Department of Agriculture is confirming what gardeners in Illinois already knew: it has become warmer in the state during recent years.  

The change can be seen in the USDA's plant hardiness map that appears on the back of packages for seeds and plants. 

State climatologist Jim Angel said the previous map was based on a much colder period in Illinois history.

“Since then we've had some milder winters in the 1990s and the early 2000s, and that's reflected in the new map,” Angel said.