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Joint Statement from Secretaries Vilsack, Jewell, and Pritzker on the Drought Declaration in California

Governor Brown’s declaration today underscores the gravity of the historic drought conditions facing California – conditions that are likely to have significant impacts on the state’s communities, economy and environment in the coming months.

We are keenly aware of the need to act quickly and collectively to address the complex challenges the drought poses, and we are directing our respective agencies to work cooperatively to target resources to help California and other impacted states prepare for and lessen the impacts of the drought.

This week, USDA designated areas in 11 states, including 27 counties in California, as primary natural disaster areas due to drought. This designation makes farmers and ranchers in those areas eligible for assistance through a number of USDA programs. USDA is also working with farmers and ranchers to increase their irrigation water efficiency, protect vulnerable soils from erosion, and improve the health of pasture and range lands.

The Bureau of Reclamation is working closely with federal and California state authorities to facilitate water transfers and provide operational flexibility to convey and store available water, and facilitate additional actions that can conserve and move water to critical areas. NOAA, part of the Department of Commerce, is providing regular updates to state officials on drought conditions.  This not only includes information on weather forecasts, but also information on river water levels and potential drought impacts.

And, as called for in the President’s Climate Action Plan, the National Drought Resilience Partnership (NDRP) will help coordinate the federal response, working closely with state, local government, agriculture and other partners. The NDRP is already helping to enhance existing efforts that federal agencies are working on with communities, businesses, farmers and ranchers to build resilience where drought is currently an issue across the country.

Today’s drought declaration also serves as a reminder of the long-term need to take a comprehensive approach to tackling California’s water problems.  We remain committed to working with the state to provide for the sustainable management of its precious water resources.

One Response to “Joint Statement from Secretaries Vilsack, Jewell, and Pritzker on the Drought Declaration in California”

  1. bj White says:

    I am a retired woman beginning farmer who 3 years ago lease 140 acres of prime hay land that has flood irrigation rights. When I retired I bought a home on 10 acres with flood irrigation rights that I have managed into excellent hay producing fields. There is no equity in my 10 acres & home due to the real estate down turn. My leased fields cost $15,000. annually paid for with hay. Now there is no flood irrigation water, reservoirs are dry. I need funding to drill a couple ag. wells to keep this hay ground going. After haying the land is used for grazing, for locally raised cattle of my neighbors.

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