Agriculture secretary urges Congress to aid farmers amid drought
WASHINGTON -- The heavens may be able to help American farmers hurt by the summer drought, the Obama administration’s top agriculture official said Wednesday, but he’d rather put the onus on Congress.
“I get on my knees every day, and I’m saying an extra prayer now,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said at a White House briefing. “If I had a rain prayer or a rain dance I could do, I would do it.”
“But honestly, right now the focus needs to be on working with Congress.”
During the afternoon briefing at the White House, Vilsack called on Congress to act quickly to help farmers. Lawmakers could vote to extend expiring disaster programs, he said, and step up aid by passing food, farm and jobs measures.
Long term, many climate experts believe this summer’s dry spell is a foretaste of the kinds of changes that global warming may cause, meaning bigger problems to come.
For now, though, the focus on lawmakers fits into the administration’s favored political strategy of running against a “do-nothing Congress.” Vilsack is no stranger to political contests. He’s the former Democratic governor of Iowa, and his wife, Christie, is the Democratic candidate for Congress in a hotly contested seat in central Iowa.
“We’ll do everything we possibly can to help folks,” Vilsack said, adding that “we’re obviously going to need some help working with Congress.”
Get our Essential Politics newsletter
The latest news, analysis and insights from our politics teams from Sacramento to D.C.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.