On a visit to Fresno, California, Obama will promise to make
available within 60 days up to $100 million in aid to help
California farmers who lost livestock due to drought conditions. For
livestock producers across the country, about $1 billion will be
available for them.
The assistance was contained in a $956 billion farm bill that
Congress passed and he signed last week.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told reporters in a preview of the
announcement that Obama will offer "a message of hope and a message
that the federal government will do all it can to try to alleviate
some of the stress connected with this drought."
During his remarks there, Obama will draw a connection between what
is being called the worst California drought in 100 years and global
Given congressional gridlock over the issue, Obama may be building a
case to impose some measures this year against climate change via
executive order, part of an effort to take actions where he can with
or without congressional approval.
John Holdren, Obama's top adviser on science and technology, said
the global climate has been so extensively impacted by "the
human-caused buildup of greenhouse gases that weather practically
everywhere is being influenced by climate change."
He said the California drought is probably the strongest of the past
"They've always had droughts in the American West of course, but now
the severe ones are getting more frequent, they're getting longer
and they're getting drier," he told reporters on a conference call.
Obama is traveling to California to meet Jordan's King Abdullah on
Friday night at Sunnylands, a desert retreat in Rancho Mirage. The
Valentine Day's summit is expected to include dinner. Obama will
stay on at Sunnylands for the long holiday weekend to play golf.
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Obama and Abdullah, who spent much of the week in Washington meeting
various U.S. officials, are to discuss efforts to bring a negotiated
end to the civil war in Syria. Jordan has absorbed many thousands of
refugees from the Syrian civil war.
California is coming off its driest year on record and a recent
winter storm did little to dull the impact of the drought in the
state that produces half the country's fruits and vegetables. A
recent drought monitor said 91.6 percent of the state is
experiencing severe to exceptional drought.
Obama will announce $15 million in aid to help farmers and ranchers
implement water conservation practices. This includes $5 million for
California and $10 million for hard-hit areas in Texas, Oklahoma,
Nebraska, Colorado and New Mexico.
Among other measures, Obama will said he has directed federal
facilities in California to take steps to immediately curb water
use, including a moratorium on new landscaping projects that are not
California Governor Jerry Brown made a similar directive to state
agencies last month in declaring a drought emergency.
(Reporting by Steve Holland; editing by Cynthia Osterman)
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