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Statement from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on National Climate Assessment

Report Takes Unprecedented Look at Impact of Climate Change on Rural America

WASHINGTON, May 6, 2014—Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack made the following statement today on the National Climate Assessment and Obama Administration efforts on climate change:

"The National Climate Assessment confirms that climate change is affecting every region of the country and critical sectors of the economy like agriculture. This assessment provides an unprecedented look at how the changing climate and extreme weather impact rural America," said Secretary Vilsack. "The Obama Administration continues to take steps to responsibly cut carbon pollution, slow the effects of climate change and support an expanded domestic energy economy. At USDA, we're working closely with our nation's farmers, ranchers and forest landowners to help them manage the negative impacts of climate change, reduce their energy costs, and grow the bioeconomy to create jobs in rural America."

For the first time ever, The National Climate Assessment examined the effects of climate change on rural communities. Rural communities are tremendously resilient but will face particular obstacles in responding to and preparing for climate change risks. In particular, physical isolation, limited economic diversity, and higher poverty rates, combined with an aging population, increase the vulnerability of rural communities.

Across the country, farmers, ranchers and forest landowners are also seeing an increase in risks to their operations due to fires, increases in invasive pests, droughts, and floods. In the Midwest, growing seasons have lengthened, the western fire season is now longer, and forests will become increasingly threatened by insect outbreaks, fire, drought and storms over the next 50 years. These events threaten America's food supply and are costly for producers and rural economies. Drought alone was estimated to cost the U.S. $50 billion from 2011 to 2013. Such risks have implications not only for agricultural producers, but for all Americans.

Through the National Drought Resilience Partnership, launched as part of President Obama's Climate Action Plan, federal agencies are working closely with state, local government, agriculture and other partners on a coordinated response.

More information on the steps USDA is taking to address the impacts of climate change below:

Along with these examples, USDA administers a wide range of conservation programs, as well as efforts to boost biomanufacturing, bioenergy, and other cutting edge industries that reduce consumption of fossil fuels and make our land, air and water cleaner.


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