University of Georgia researchers recently joined a national team of scientists working on a five-year, $4.1-million U.S. Department of Agriculture grant designed around climate change’s effects on animal agriculture.

“Animal production is vitally important to Georgia’s economy,” said Mark Risse, an engineer with UGA Cooperative Extension who is leading the research at UGA.

“In 2009, poultry, beef cattle, dairy and swine accounted for nearly $5 billion of the agricultural value in Georgia. It is important to keep our animal producers informed of practices that are environmentally sound, climatically compatible and economically viable.”

The goal of the USDA grant is to help livestock and poultry producers adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change, especially as they face new weather patterns or regulations put in place to limit greenhouse gases.

“In the Southeast, we are more interested in how our animals will respond to water,” Risse said. “As a region, the South is predominately poultry, so we will look heavily at the poultry industry and at what changes the industry may need to make and will focus on how to best equip producers to adapt to these changes.”