All-Hands-On-Deck Response to the Drought
August 11, 2012
In this week’s address, President
Obama discussed the Administration’s all-hands-on-deck approach to one
of the worst droughts in more than fifty years. This drought is
especially hard on farmers and ranchers who are facing poor crops and
are struggling to feed their animals. That is why the Administration is
doing everything possible to give them the tools to fight back and
recover. The Administration has taken steps including opening more
federal land for haying and grazing, giving farmers, ranchers, and small
businesses access to low-interest emergency loans, and providing
assistance to get more water to livestock and restore land affected by
the drought. But the Administration can’t do this alone. The President
reiterated his call on Congress to join him in taking action by passing
a farm bill that makes necessary reforms while helping farmers and
ranchers respond to these types of natural disasters and providing the
certainty they deserve.
Remarks of President Barack Obama
The White House
August 11, 2012
Hi, everybody. Today, I want to talk about something that most of you
know already – it’s hot outside. It’s really hot. And if this feels
worse than normal, that’s because it is. We just found out that the
month of July was the warmest month on record – warmer than any other
month since we began keeping track more than a century ago.
But the heat is just half the story. We’re also suffering through one of
the worst droughts in over 50 years. More than a fifth of this country
is experiencing what we call “extreme” or “exceptional” drought – with
states like Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Arkansas getting
hit harder than most.
That’s bad news for a lot of people, but it’s especially tough on our
farmers. Right now, half of the corn crop in America is in poor or very
poor condition. Cattle farmers are struggling to feed their animals.
Many folks are seeing their livelihoods dry up in front of their eyes.
And if we don’t get relief soon, Americans everywhere will start feeling
the pinch, with higher prices on grocery store shelves all across the
We can’t let that happen. That’s why, at my direction, the Department of
Agriculture, led by Secretary Vilsack, has been working with other
agencies across the federal government to make sure we’re doing
everything we can to help farmers and ranchers fight back and recover
from this disaster. Already, we’ve given farmers across 32 states access
to low-interest emergency loans.
We’ve opened up more federal land for grazing. And we’re working with
crop insurance companies to give farmers a short grace period on their
premiums, since some families will be struggling to make ends meet at
the end of the year.
This past week, we went even further – announcing an additional $30
million to help get more water to livestock and restore land affected by
the drought. We’re making it easier for even more farmers, ranchers and
businesses to get emergency loans. And the Department of Transportation
is helping more truck drivers deliver supplies to states that need them
This is an all-hands-on-deck response, and we’ll be doing even more in
the coming weeks to help families and communities that are suffering
my Administration can’t do it alone. Congress needs to do its part, too.
They need to pass a farm bill that not only helps farmers and ranchers
respond to these kinds of disasters, but also makes necessary reforms
and gives them some certainty year-round. That’s the single best way we
can help rural communities right now, and also in the long-term.
So call your Members of Congress, write them an email, and tell them
that now is the time to come together and get this done. Too many
Americans are suffering right now to let politics get in the way. Let’s
help farmers, ranchers and business owners recover. Let’s make sure that
families who already stretch their budgets to the limit don’t have to
pay more for groceries this fall.
In the meantime, I’ll keep doing everything I can to help respond to
this disaster. Because at times like these, it doesn’t matter if you
live in Des Moines or Detroit – we’re Americans first. And if we look
out for each other, we’ll come out of this stronger than before.