Senate Leaves Without Action on Disaster Aid
The U.S. Congress has started its August recess and the Senate did not act on the disaster aid bill approved by the House Thursday. Nebraska Senator Mike Johanns was not happy - criticizing the Senate leadership for opting to begin the scheduled August state work period without passing disaster relief legislation for farmers and ranchers across the country impacted by severe drought and wildfires. Johanns admitted he would have preferred to pass a five-year farm bill ahead of the break - but said that didn't mean the Senate should hold drought relief hostage. He said the responsible course of action would have been to pass a disaster package like the House did. Johanns called leaving down without voting on the measure wrong. Senate Ag Committee Ranking Member Pat Roberts accused the Senate leadership of playing politics with a devastating drought. He said the consequences of Senate inaction would be felt in rising food prices at dinner tables across the nation.
House Agriculture Committee Chairman had urged the Senate to quickly pass the Agricultural Disaster Assistance Act of 2012. He said vast areas of productive pastureland are burning up and agricultural producers are in dire need. The disaster assistance measure approved by the House - according to Lucas - would provide the risk management tools to those ranchers who are currently exposed.
The House-passed disaster package was fully paid for and reauthorized several 2008 Farm Bill disaster programs that expired on September 30th of 2011 - including the Livestock Forage Disaster Program, the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program, the Livestock Indemnity Program and the Tree Assistance Program.
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