From forest fires to floods to drought, global climate change is behind a host of recent natural disasters, according to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who’s joining President Obama in his call for a new “Climate Action Plan.”
Secretary Vilsack says the impact of “climate change” on the Midwest was evident during a visit with the president along the Iowa/Nebraska border last year.
Vilsack says they visited a farm in Missouri Valley, Iowa, as part of a drought tour. “We saw first-hand the impact and effects of a significant drought — the most severe and significant drought that we’d seen throughout the country in probably 80 years.”
He says the reality of the drought was devastation and the loss of crops. Vilsack says that disaster was very costly.
“Over $17-billion were paid out in crop insurance premiums just as a result of that drought and we still see the impacts and affects of drought today, now followed by intense storms in the same areas of the country where we’re seeing significant flooding,” Vilsack says, “also interrupting with crop production.”
Vilsack blames climate change for the wildfires that have devastated hundreds of acres of cropland, native prairies and forests in Nebraska and several other states.
“Last year, we spent nearly $2-billion at the USDA fighting and suppressing these fires which are a direct result of the accumulation of fuel load directly linked to invasive species which resulted from warmer climates as a result of warmer temperatures,” Vilsack says. “So, the impacts are real in real terms to communities to families to farms to ranches.”
The ag secretary says his department is working to help rural communities move away from the production of carbon which he says leads to the climate change, for example, by investing in wind energy.