Senators: Ranchers should get drought aid

Protection for ranchers from the ravages of drought should be included in the 2013 Farm Bill, senators from Colorado and Wyoming said.

U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., and Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., wrote to the Senate Agriculture Committee to include disaster assistance for livestock owners in legislation being crafted.

“Permanent baseline funding for livestock disaster assistance programs will provide our ranchers and farmers the confidence they need to make business decisions that will enhance stability throughout the agricultural sector and help boost our economy,” Udall and Enzi wrote.

The permanent livestock disaster assistance would be funded from saving more than $13.1 billion in deficit-reducing savings anticipated in the 2013 Farm Bill.

The current drought provided the impetus for the senators to seek protection for livestock owners. The senators noted that at the start of 2013, the U.S. Department of Agriculture designated 597 counties in 14 states as primary natural-disaster areas as a result of drought and heat.

“The extreme drought and the absence of permanent livestock disaster provisions — which expired in 2011 as part of the 2008 Farm Bill — exacerbated the impact of rising feed prices and dry pasture,” Udall and Enzi wrote.

Drought conditions are likely to persist through the year, the senators noted.


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