Western Drought Reveals Need for Stronger Farm Protections, Agriculture Secretary Says


A drought gripping the Western U.S. reveals The want for stronger protections for farmers navigating rising local climate-associated risks, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said.

Since taking management of the USDA earlier this yr, Mr. Vilsack has urged lawmakers To revamp farm assist methods and disaster packages To assist farmers Deal with harsher and longer-finaling climate calamities, he said. The financial scars left by droughts and completely different disasters can linger for yrs, Mr. Vilsack said, rippling past farms, ranches and orchards into completely different sectors of the financial system.

“Lots of these areas have embraced a 50- to 100-yr event Inside the final 5 to 10 yrs,” said Mr. Vilsack, talking On the WSJ Worldwide Meals Discussion board on Thursday.

Farmers, ranchers and completely different food producers in Western states face ancompletely different summer time of dry circumstances, with drought afflicting Greater than 90% of the American West, up from 43% a yr in the past, Based mostly on the U.S. Drought Monitor. Reservoirs are being drawn down, And a few farmers are letting fields go fallow or Wanting for various water provides.

The drought now battering U.S. agricultural producers is on tempo to be A pair of of the extreme to hit the southwestern U.S., Based mostly on federal knowledge. The final extreme drought, from 2014-2015, value California agricultural operations about $5 billion and led to about 20,000 misplaced jobs, Based mostly on College of California Davis estimates.