U.S. Agriculture Secretary promising federal relief for CA farmers impacted by drought

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Just days after state regulators announced water cutbacks for thousands of Central Valley farmers, Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack promised federal relief to help combat California's drought disaster.

At least $41 million will be available to four states severely impacted by the drought, including the Golden State.

"We're also using COVID relief dollars and the American Rescue Plan dollars to provide additional assistance under our pandemic assistance and build back better effort," he said.

Thursday's farm tour in Fresno County was the final stop of a three-day west coast swing for Secretary Vilsack. Bipartisan lawmakers Jim Costa and David Valadao joined him for the visit.

"Agriculture in the Central Valley, especially when you think about the water crisis, we're truly struggling and to be able to bring some attention to this is obviously important, but we're struggling on a lot of different fronts," Valadao said.

Along with tackling California's worsening drought, Vilsack revealed the need for climate-resilient infrastructure as federal leaders continue to work on the next farm bill slated for 2023

Vilsack said he was impressed by how local farmers are reusing water resources during drought years but understands it's not a long term solution

"This farm figured out ways in which you can recharge the groundwater and the capacity of farms like this to retain water for difficult, dry times and how we might be able to expand and increase the storage of water as well," he said.
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