After attempts to procure federal aid for farmers and ranchers who suffered losses as a result of natural disasters in 2005 and 2006, three senators have co-sponsored a bill that would provide farm disaster aid automatically in federally declared disaster counties.
Senators Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., Kent Conrad, D-N.D., and John Thune, R-S.D., co-sponsored the bill. Many farmers in the Dakotas have suffered losses due to a record drought, and after legislators were unable to pass a disaster aid bill in the previous Congress, Dakota senators hope this bill will prevent them from having to fight for more aid each year.
"We are hoping this will provide some level of predictability," Thune says. "In the long run, I think it's fiscally sound to plan for these things."
However, Republican opposition previously objected to the price tag, claiming the aid would be too expensive, and the 110th Congress may still not be able to override a Bush veto.
The bill would:
- Compensate agricultural producers in federally declared disaster counties and contiguous counties who lose more than 35% of their crop due to weather conditions. Those producers would be eligible for a payment of 65% of the crop price.
- Require producers to purchase crop insurance to be eligible, or, in the case of a noninsurable commodity, participate in the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program.
- Compensate ranchers in designated disaster counties and contiguous counties for either grazing losses sustained due to natural disasters or cattle losses due to hurricanes, floods, wildfires, extreme heat or other weather conditions as determined by the Secretary of Agriculture.
Source: Cattle Network