Ag Secretary Visiting Cuba; Forest Restoration to Expand
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is in Cuba leading a delegation of U.S. government officials there through Saturday. Vilsack said the trip would "be an opportunity to support the administration’s commitment to normalizing relations and empowering the Cuban people through bilateral agricultural engagement.” The proposed schedule includes meetings with Cuban government officials in agriculture, foreign affairs, and food purchasing.The delegation includes Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Representatives Suzan DelBene of Washington and Kurt Shrader of Oregon.
A new report shows the U.S. Forest Service has increased the pace and scale of forest restoration by nine percent since 2011. The report concludes the progress comes in the face of mounting challenges to the agency including record droughts, longer wildfire seasons and the increasing percentage of the agency's budget spent fighting wildland fires. Despite the gains, at least 65 million National Forest System acres are still in need of restoration work. Currently, a record 52 percent of the Forest Service budget is dedicated to fighting wildfires.