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Montana Ag Network: agencies team up to create Drought Relief Working Group

Drought Cracked Soil.jpg
Posted at 10:53 AM, Apr 26, 2021

BILLINGS — The White House has announced the formation of an Interagency Working Group to address worsening drought conditions here in the West and support farmers and ranchers.

The Biden administration is bringing back the Drought Task Force & Resiliency Task Force last seen in the Obama administration.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the group will be co-chaired by the Departments of Agriculture and Interior and will collaborate with Tribes, agriculture producers, landowners, and rural communities to build regional resilience to drought.

“To make sure that we're taking a look at the full range and suite of assistance that we can provide to producers and to make sure that we do this in an interagency process to make sure it's not just the USDA, but we make sure that other departments that potentially have equities here are brought into the process,” said Vilsack.

The latest drought monitor map continues to show the southwest region of the United States in the toughest condition but there are pockets of moderate to extreme drought in Montana.

To help mitigate natural disasters like drought, Vilsack says development of longer-term measures to respond to climate change isn’t just a top priority of the Biden administration here in the U.S. but with other countries around the world.

“We in the U.S. are responsible for roughly 9% or so of our emissions; worldwide it's 14 to 15 percent,” said Vilsack. “We have something to learn. They have something to learn. The pledge here is to work collaboratively so that agriculture generally is moving in the right direction and in a forward direction.”

In the meantime, a little moisture right now would go a long way in helping to alleviate some of the drought that so many are currently enduring.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland says, like the USDA, the Interior Department is committed to using every resource available” to accomplish their goal.