Ag Policy Blog
Chris Clayton DTN Ag Policy Editor

Friday 12/07/12

Federal Agencies Trying to Mitigate Low Mississippi Flows

President Obama raised the issue of the Mississippi River flows with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack at a cabinet meeting Wednesday and also asked Vilsack about the drought situation overall.

Vilsack told reporters Thursday the president instructed the administration to put together a way in which rock removal could be fast-tracked by the Army Corps of Engineers. Vilsack told reporters Thursday that is the process of happening. He also has communicated with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and leaders at the Army Corps of Engineers about the ability to continue navigation.

"Those conversations are ongoing. I think everyone is aware and sensitive to the importance of that river and getting product to market," Vilsack said.

According to other published reports, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney also said Thursday that the president directing the administration to take “every step to mitigate” the situation. Yet, Carney added that there are “complex” legal and technical steps which can be pursued, saying the Army Corps of Engineers has taken “proactive” measures.

In his own Q&A Thursday with reporters, Vilsack also was asked, what was the biggest thing we learned this year about agriculture and the drought? And what's the biggest challenge agriculture faces given we are still in a drought?

"An important lesson is the technology has allowed us to survive an extraordinary weather experience in better shape than I think anybody thought we would be in when the drought began," Vilsack said. "I think the yields were a little higher than people anticipated and I think it's in large part because of technology and the techniques farmers use. It’s a reinforcement for the need for us to continue to invest in science and to trust science.

Vilsack continued, "The biggest challenge is the long-term impacts of no water and the fact that these hearings or these meetings have allowed us to understand we need to be focused on the infrastructure of storage and the regulation of the flow of water. We need to think about that. We need to be concerned about the ability to use our rivers and our ports to get product to and from market efficiently and effectively. If the Mississippi shuts down for an extended period of time, we're actually talking about millions of dollars of lost opportunity or additional expenses to be able to ship stuff by rail or to a different port. We'll get it to market but it will be more expensive and therefore less competitive."

Earlier, speaking at the Farm Journal Forum, Vilsack tackled the question of climate change, citing the intense weather conditions and storms hitting the coasts, sustained drought in the Great Plains and extraordinary wildfires in the West.

"There is no question while there may be a debate in some folks minds about the cause, there is no question the climate is indeed changing," Vilsack said, "which necessitates USDA and all of agriculture and those concerned about rural America to focus on additional research and ways we can indeed adapt and mitigate and develop strategies that in the long-term will allow us to continue to have the greatest agriculture in the world, the most efficient and most productive agriculture in the world, to be able to fulfill our own needs in the United States and continue this robust commitment to exports."

It will take a concerted effort to respond and understand climate change, he said.

Follow me on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN

Posted at 8:06AM CST 12/07/12 by Chris Clayton
Comments (2)
It takes considerable effort to understand a misguided liberal. If it is climate change, what would any of these idiots do about it? I guess they could setup a hearing to discuss.
Posted by Frank Thomas at 9:37AM CST 12/07/12
I do have questions. If watersheds were free flowing, without man made obstructions, how much H2O would be now flowing down the mighty Mississippi? Also, if all were released now, would there be a reserve for next year? The river we live close to, ceased to flow in the 30's, but is still flowing, with fish in it today.
Posted by Bonnie Dukowitz at 10:54AM CST 12/07/12
Post a Blog Comment:
Your Comment:
DTN reserves the right to delete comments posted to any of our blogs and forums, for reasons including profanity, libel, irrelevant personal attacks and advertisements.
Blog Home Pages
April  2014
S M T W T F S
      1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30         
Subscribe to Ag Policy Blog RSS
Recent Blog Posts
  • Senators Seek Funding for PEDv Vaccine
  • Vilsack: I Don't Have Presidential Sizzle
  • Proposed Rule on Waters of the U.S. Flows into Federal Register
  • Landowner Effects Expected from Lesser Prairie Chicken Listing
  • Senators Concerned Plan to Reduce Methane Emissions Will Hurt Ag
  • SNAP Program Sees Change in CBO Estimates
  • Everyone is Lobbying on the RFS
  • The IPCC on Biofuels: Good or Bad?
  • Senators See No Place for Geographical Indicators
  • Senate Finance Committee Approves Tax Extenders Package
  • Farm Bureau Opposes EPA Waters Rule
  • In Search of Immigration Reform in the House
  • Lesser Prairie Chicken Decision Ruffles Feathers
  • Senators Concerned About Possible FSA Office Closures
  • Tax Extenders Remain in Limbo
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Targets Conservation in Prairie Pothole Region
  • California, Ethanol and Eggs
  • USDA Highlights Organic Programs in Farm Bill
  • ARC, PLC, SCO and NCAA Tourney Picks
  • Carbon Offset Program Announced for Rice Growers