Obama to discuss California drought in Fresno stop this week

WASHINGTON Mon Feb 10, 2014 11:41am EST

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WASHINGTON Feb 10 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama on Friday will discuss federal efforts to help California cope with a severe drought when he makes a stop in the Fresno area.

Obama leaves on Friday for talks in Rancho Mirage, California, with Jordan's King Abdullah.

On his way there, Obama will stop in the Fresno area, where a White House official said on Monday he will "discuss ongoing efforts to respond to the severe drought."

Coming off its driest year on record, California is gripped in a drought that threatens to inflict the worst water crisis in state history, prompting Governor Jerry Brown last month to declare a state of emergency.

Large-scale crop losses in California, which is the No. 1 U.S. farm state, producing half the nation's fruits and vegetables, would undoubtedly lead to higher consumer prices.

Last week the Agriculture Department announced $20 million in assistance directed to the most heavily stricken areas to help farmers and ranchers better utilize scare water resources. (Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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