Salem, OR—Governor Kate Brown today met with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to discuss the Biden-Harris administration’s response to the serious drought and wildfire conditions in Oregon. The meeting underscored the importance of a strong state and federal partnership in helping Oregon's agriculture sector respond to the stresses of increasing climate-related weather events.
G&C Farms Visit and Roundtable Discussion on Drought
Governor Brown and Secretary Vilsack toured G&C Farms in Salem, which has been impacted by drought, and saw firsthand the impacts of heat and drought stress on the agriculture sector. Governor Brown and Secretary Vilsack also participated in a roundtable discussion where they heard from stakeholders about the impacts of drought on small producers.
They were joined by Lisa Hanson, Deputy Director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture; Taylor and Brian Martin, Operators of G&C Farms; Tiffany Monroe, Co-owner of Monroe Farms; Nathan Jackson, Ranch Manager; Mark Wiegardt, owner of Whiskey Creek Shellfish Hatchery; Josh Zielinski, owner of Alpha Nurseries; Reyna Lopez, Executive Director of PCUN; Venancio Carillo, a member of the United Farm Workers union; and Ben Stone, co-owner of BTN of Oregon, a Christmas tree farm.
"I’d like to thank Secretary Vilsack for coming to Oregon to learn firsthand the challenges Oregon’s farmers and agriculture industry are facing as a result of recent climate-related disasters," said Governor Brown. "Secretary Vilsack understands the dynamics on the ground, and I’m grateful we have strong partners in the Biden-Harris administration who are working with us to address the impacts of drought and climate-related disasters on our agriculture sector."
"As drought is expanding and intensifying across the West, Oregon’s farmers are experiencing the climate crisis firsthand," said Secretary Vilsack. “I’m thankful for the opportunity to join Governor Brown and hear directly from members of the agriculture sector as we work to provide immediate relief for drought impacted producers and improve the resilience of our communities from drought and other climate-related disaster events."
Interagency Wildfire Response Briefing and Policy Discussion
Governor Brown and Secretary Vilsack also attended a briefing at the Anderson Readiness Center on the current status of wildfire response and discussed ongoing federal and state efforts to strengthen wildfire prevention and preparedness in Oregon. They were joined by Major General Michael Stencel, Adjutant General of the Oregon National Guard; Andrew Phelps, Director of the Oregon Office of Emergency Management; Doug Grafe, Oregon Department of Forestry Chief of Fire Protection; Nancy Hirsch, Acting State Forester; Alex Robertson, USFS Regional Fire Director; and Glenn Casamassa, USFS Regional Forester.
"The Bootleg Fire underscores how the challenges of fire season are being exacerbated by the climate crisis," said Governor Brown. "Fires now arrive earlier, move faster, and burn longer. It is critically important we work together at the local, state, tribal, and federal levels to proactively tackle fires. As fires know no boundaries, we have an incredible opportunity to collaborate in ways we haven’t done so before to invest in forest management, expand firefighter capacity and support recovery efforts.”
“Along with historic drought, the wildland fires we are seeing today are anything but normal,” said Secretary Vilsack. “While we work together to put out the fires in front of us, we must also take bold action to increase the long-term resilience of communities at risk for wildfire in the face of climate change. USDA is committed to working with partners at all levels to support communities in their recovery and increase the scale of forest restoration and fuel reduction activities.”
• Governor Brown and Secretary Vilsack also recorded a video together thanking firefighters and other emergency first responders for their hard work. That video can be viewed here
• Photos are available here