Tell Tom Vilsack: Farmers Deserve The Facts About Climate Change And Drought

Forecast the Facts petition:  Tell Secretary Vilsack: Farmers Deserve the Facts about Climate Change and Drought

“The US is facing one of the worst droughts in our history, but Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says he doesn’t want to ‘opine’ as to the role of climate change.* That is not acceptable. The scientific links between climate change and drought are well established by his own Department, and it’s Secretary Vilsack’s responsibility to share that information with farmers and the American public.”

Sign this petition to tell Secretary Vilsack to help America’s farmers by giving them the truth about manmade climate change.

Here’s what Secretary Vilsack said at a White House briefing:

Q:  Could you talk a little bit about the drought itself?  Is it very unusual?  Did anyone see it coming?  Is it from climate change?  Is there anything you can do to prepare?

SECRETARY VILSACK:  I’m not a scientist so I’m not going to opine as to the cause of this.  All we know is that right now there are a lot of farmers and ranchers who are struggling.  And it’s important and necessary for them to know, rather than trying to focus on what’s causing this, what can we do to help them.  And what we can do to help them is lower interest rates, expand access to grazing and haying opportunities, lower the penalties associated with that, and encourage Congress to help and work with us to provide additional assistance.  And that’s where our focus is.

Long term, we will continue to look at weather patterns, and we’ll continue to do research and to make sure that we work with our seed companies to create the kinds of seeds that will be more effective in dealing with adverse weather conditions.

It’s one of the reasons — because they have done that, it’s one of the reasons why we’re still uncertain as to the impact of this drought in terms of its bottom line because some seeds are drought-resistant and drought-tolerant, and it may be that the yields in some cases are better than we’d expected because of the seed technology….

Q:  Mr. Secretary, I want to follow through on the climate change question.  Is there any long-range thinking at the Department that — you had the wildfires and the heat wave and the rise in sea levels, and now this drought — that there’s something more going on here than just one year of a bad crop, and you need more than better seeds, maybe do something about climate change?

SECRETARY VILSACK:  Our focus, to be honest with you, in a situation like this is on the near term and the immediate, because there’s a lot of pressure on these producers.  You take the dairy industry, for example.  We’ve lost nearly half of our dairy producers in the last 10 years.  They were just getting back to a place where there was profitability and now they’re faced with some serious issues and, again, no assistance in terms of disaster assistance.

So that’s our near-term focus.  Long term, we obviously are engaged in research projects; we’re obviously working with seed companies.  Don’t discount the capacity of the seed companies.  These technologies do make a difference.  And it’s one of the reasons why, at least based on the yields today, we’re looking at potentially the third largest corn crop in our history.  Now, that may be adjusted downward, it may be adjusted upward — depends on the rain, depends on circumstances.   But even with the difficulties we’re experiencing, we’re still looking at a pretty good crop as of today.  Tomorrow it could change, obviously.  (click here to read more)

Here’s what Vilsack said in an interview by Jeremy Hobson on Marketplace Morning Report:

… Hobson:  Mr. Secretary, I want to ask you one more question before I let you go. This is — as you said – the worst drought in decades, the first half of this year, according to the government, was the hottest in 118 years of record keeping across the country, the U.K. just had its wettest June since records began there. Is it the view of theU.S.government that this is climate change?

VILSACK:  Well, I’m not an expert on climate change so it probably wouldn’t be appropriate for me to respond specifically to that question. My focus and I think the focus of the USDA and the President, right now is on making sure that we get help to these folks, making sure, for example, that people know that they got to contact their insurance agent, if they have crop insurance, that they may have a damaged crop so that they won’t lose rights under their policy, that’s our focus.

It’s not to trying to figure out, today, what may be causing this or what may be impacting it. We know it is impacting farmers and ranchers. Our hearts go out to their families and these hard working folks. We just want to be able to provide them some help and assistance.

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