The White House this week announced the formation of an Interagency Working Group to address worsening drought conditions in the West and ongoing water shortages. The Working Group will be co-chaired by the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack states, “With our interagency Working Group, we will collaborate with Tribes, agricultural producers, landowners, and rural communities to build regional resilience to drought.” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland says, “We are committed to using every resource available” to accomplish their goal.
The Working Group will work to identify immediate financial and technical assistance for impacted irrigators and Tribes. Development of longer-term measures to respond to climate change and build more resilient communities and protect the natural environment will also be a priority, including through President Biden’s proposed American Jobs Plan and through a recommitment to strengthening the National Drought Resilience Partnership. Formed in 2013, the NDRP brings together federal agencies to build long-term drought resilience.