U.S. President Obama headed to California where he pledged to help farmers hit by drought. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION). President Barack Obama toured parts of California's drought zone on Friday and pledged to speed help to the No. 1 farm state. California is coming off its driest year on record and a recent winter storm did little to dull the impact of the drought in the state that produces half the country's fruits and vegetables. A recent drought monitor said 91.6 percent of the state is experiencing severe to exceptional drought. After his roundtable, Obama was to tour a dry field and announce plans to make available within 60 days up to $100 million in aid to help California farmers who lost livestock because of drought conditions. For livestock producers across the country, about $1 billion will be available. The assistance was contained in a $956 billion farm bill that Congress passed and that he signed last week. Separately, the administration said it plans new funding to address climate change. At a meeting of the state's top water officials in Sacramento on Friday the mood was grim, despite the welcome news that federal aid was on the way. Job losses among farm workers were expected to be so acute that $60 million of the federal assistance was expected to be used to shore up food banks.