The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture News As It Happens


Vilsack briefs on drought and calls for farm bill passage


Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack addresses reporters
at today's White House press briefing.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack briefed President Barack Obama on the drought today and then dominated a press briefing with White House press secretary Jay Carney during which he called for passage of a new farm bill that includes disaster assistance.

Vilsack told reporters that he had found Obama “very well-informed on the circumstances surrounding a very serious drought – the most serious situation we’ve had probably in 25 years – across the country. Sixty-one percent of the land mass of the United States is currently being characterized as being impacted by this drought.”

He also noted that USDA will use all its administrative powers to help farmers and ranchers, but that it is limited because disaster programs in the 2008 farm bill have expired.

“But it's the livestock producers that are in the biggest and most troubled situation because they simply don't have any disaster program and there's no such thing as a crop insurance program for livestock producers,” Vilsack said.

President Barack Obama is briefed by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack
on efforts to respond to drought conditions across the country,
during a meeting in the Oval Office today. (White House/Pete Souza)