Speaking at the opening session of the first of four regional workshops to outline resources available to assist with drought recovery efforts, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the lack of a new five-year Food, Farm and Jobs Bill has the potential to delay and stifle the federal response.
"U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is doing all we can, but key programs traditionally made available in times of disaster are in limbo because Congress has allowed our authority to deliver them to expire," said Vilsack. "As I travel the country, it is clear to me that farmers and ranchers are aware of the gravity of the situation and the need for Congress to act."
Vilsack indicated that President Obama had directed federal agencies to take every possible step to help farmers and ranchers, businesses and rural communities recover as a result of one of the country's worst droughts in decades. USDA is partnering with local, state and federal partners to hold the workshops, working closely with the Department of Commerce, the Small Business Administration and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to facilitate these meetings.
The next meeting will be at the Colorado State Fairgrounds in Pueblo on Oct. 15 to be followed by meetings in Pine Bluff, Ark., on Oct. 17 and in Ohio during the week of Oct. 22.