Vilsack Won't Blame Climate Change for Snowy Winter, But ‘Climate Is Changing’

By Penny Starr | February 20, 2014 | 2:35pm EST

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack spoke at the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) annual Agricultural Outlook Forum on Feb. 20, 2014 in Northern Virginia. ( Starr)

( – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack did not link this winter’s frigid and snowy weather in much of the country to global warming, but said the “climate is changing” and the federal government wants to help the country’s food producers.

At a press conference on Thursday at the United States Agriculture Department’s (USDA) annual Agricultural Outlook Forum, asked Vilsack if global warming or climate change were to blame for the recent cold and snowy weather.

“You know, I don’t think scientists would suggest that any one weather incident can be attributed to one specific issue, but I think it’s fair to say that the climate is changing over a longer period of time,” Vilsack said.

Vilsack said climate change was the incentive for his Feb. 5 announcement of the creation of “Regional Hubs for Risk Adaption and Mitigation to Climate Change” at seven locations around the country.

The press release announcing the hubs stated that the hubs are part of President Barack Obama’s Climate Action Plan to “responsibly cut carbon pollution, slow the effects of climate change and put America on track to a cleaner environment.”

“And that’s one of the reasons why we felt it necessary to establish these climate change hubs to be able to do a very longitudinal, thoughtful, data-driven study of the risks and the vulnerabilities of each region of the country relative to agriculture and forestry to come up with strategies to allow producers to adapt and mitigate to the changes they’re seeing,” Vilsack said. “And to then use our extension service to make sure that they get the information that allows them to adapt and mitigate.

“We’re seeing a lot of circumstances that require adjustments on the part of producers and we want to be able to provide as much help and assistance as we can,” Vilsack said.

Later in the press conference Vilsack said his agency is “clearly focused on climate change.”

Aside from climate change, the conference offered participants a wide range of workshops with topics ranging from attracting a new generation of farmers, food prices, and how to deal with “invasive pests.”

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