Agriculture Secretary addresses national drought issue

Posted at 6:22 PM, Jul 19, 2012
and last updated 2012-07-19 18:22:36-04

Dire drought conditions prompted Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to speak out Thursday.

The dry, hot heat is the worst the nation has seen in 56 years, according to The National Climatic Data Center. More than 70 percent of the United States is experiencing some state of drought, according to Monday's National Climatic Data Center report.  

The same report noted June 2012 was the fourth hottest June globally since at least 1880.

And it's taken a toll on farmers and their dying crops -- especially corn. That could raise the price of grain, and impact meat and dairy prices.  

Vilsack said Congress needs to step in to help the struggling farmers.  

“We've got thousands and thousands of farm families and ranch families across the country who are suffering today, in 29 states,” he said.

Here is the rest of what Vilsack said:

“This is not a Republican or Democratic issue. This is an American issue. We obviously need to help these folks.

This is why we have a safety net. This is why we need passage of a food, farm and jobs bill quickly. It is why we need to help these livestock producers in particular.

 It would impact and affect, obviously over the long haul, food prices -- not as dramatically as some people would expect, because farmers only get 14 cents of every food dollar. But it is still going to impact consumers as well.“