Barack Obama touches down in Air Force One at Fresno Yosemite International Airport on Friday. Collegian / Matt Vieira
Obama arrived in Fresno at 2:39 p.m today, briefly appearing before media at Fresno Yosemite International Airport before boarding Marine One for his next stop in Firebaugh.
With him were Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer and Rep. Jim Costa.
Obama will address California’s record-breaking drought and will announce federal initiatives aimed at alleviating the strain it poses to people in the agricultural industry.
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, 91.6 percent of California is experiencing severe to exceptional drought.
Earlier this month, Valley Republican Rep. David Valadao’s drought bill was passed by the House of Representatives amid Democratic concern and the threat of a presidential veto.
In response, Feinstein and Boxer unveiled their own drought bill Tuesday.
However, the Obama Administration isn’t waiting for Congress, Vilsack said.
“Rather than wait for congressional action, what we’re going to try to do is try to put the resources that are available, that we have control over, to use as quickly as possible,” he said.
Obama recently directed the Department of Agriculture to streamline livestock disaster assistance for California producers.
“The president has been very clear to me and the DA that he wants this done so people can start applying within 60 days,” Vilsack said.
None of the president’s stops in the Fresno area will be open to the public.
“He’ll have an opportunity to observe the impact on the ground,” Vilsack said. “He’ll offer a message of hope, and a message that the Federal government will do all that it can to try and alleviate some of the stress connected with this drought.”
During his visit, Obama will use Marine One, the presidential helicopter, to travel to locations in Central California to meet with local leaders and farmers.
Obama will make two stops during his visit. The first will be at 3:15 p.m. in Firebaugh where he will take part in a roundtable discussion with community leaders at the San Luis Water District.
The other will be in Los Banos. At 4:15 p.m., Obama is scheduled to tour a farm in the city for 15 minutes, then deliver remarks on California’s record-breaking drought.
Obama will then return to Fresno Yosemite International Airport where he is expected to leave Fresno by 5:35 p.m. After his stop in Fresno, he will head to the Palm Springs area to meet with the King of Jordan, Adullah II.