Obama comes to California carrying drought aid

 

McClatchy Washington Bureau

President Barack Obama is bringing additional drought aid with him Friday, as he arrives in California's stricken San Joaquin Valley.

The new assistance includes sped-up livestock disaster assistance for California producers, provided under a newly signed farm bill, as well as targeted conservation assistance, watershed protection funds, additional summer feeding programs and emergency community water grants.

By directing Agriculture Department staff to make the livestock assistance a "top priority," officials say they expect to provide California producers an estimated $100 million for 2014 losses and up to $50 million for losses in previous years. 

"Our goal here is to provide growers help and assistance," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told reporters.

The conservation assistance includes an estimated $5 million in new aid for California, and an additional $5 million in emergency watershed protection grants and $3 million in water grants for rural communities.

Interior Department officials are also being directed to operate federal water projects with "flexibility" to maximize water deliveries, and federal agencies are being directed to conserve more aggressively.

Much of the aid comes from existing federal programs, but is being provided with what administration officials describe as extra dispatch. This includes the intention to establish 600 additional summer feeding sites in the drought-affected region, under the Agriculture Department.

"The president definitely recognizes that the drought not only affects farmers, but also families," Vilsack said.

Accompanied by cabinet officials and top Democratic lawmakers, Obama is set to land in Fresno before being whisked off to a Valley farm for a first-hand look at the effects of drought. He will be announcing the aid as well as tying the severe drought to the consequences of man-made global climate change.

"The problem in California is not that we don't have enough reservoirs," said Dr. John Holdren, White House science adviser. "It's that we don't have enough water in them. It wouldn't help to build any more (reservoirs.)"

Obama is scheduled to be accompanied at the Fresno-area event by Vilsack, Gov. Jerry Brown, Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Michael Connor, Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer and Rep. Jim Costa, D-Calif.

No Republican lawmakers were included on the White House list  of attendees.

 

 

 

Read more Politics Wires stories from the Miami Herald

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category