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Drought Disaster Programme Passed by House

6 August 2012, at 7:59am

US - The US House of Representatives voted last week to pass a bill that would provide financial aid for some of the livestock producers reeling from damages caused by the worst drought in a half century.

The House has voted to appropriate $383 million over 10 years to retroactively extend the livestock assistance programmes that expired a year ago.

However, as Congress breaks for summer, the relief package went unpassed and will be taken up after Labour Day.

The legislation, House Resolution 6233, re-authorises the Livestock Indemnity Programme (LIP), the Livestock Forage Programme (LFP), the Emergency Livestock Assistance Programme (ELAP) and the Tree Assistance Programme (TAP). To find the money for financing the assistance programmes, the House cut $639 million from the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and the Environmental Quality Incentives Programme (EQIP) for a net reduction of $256 million over 10 years.

The Republican-controlled House was expected to approve the bill, which passed by a 223-197 vote, but it is likely to see opposition from lawmakers eager to pass a five-year farm bill and supporters of programmes that stand to see funding cuts in order to accommodate the law.

The bill would compensate them for 75 per cent of the value of livestock killed by drought and 60 per cent for feed costs for one to three months. The bill also includes $20 million for feed and water shortages for livestock, bees and farm-raised fish, as well as a programme to help tree farmers recover losses.

Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, Frank Lucas said: ""Given that vast areas of productive pastureland are burning up and our agricultural producers are in dire need, I'm pleased that the House approved this disaster assistance measure.

"It provides risk management tools to those ranchers who are currently exposed. This is not a long-term solution, but it takes care of the problem until we can get a five-year farm bill on the books and put those policies in place.

"I am committed to giving certainty to our farmers and I plan to work toward that goal when we return in September. In the meantime, I urge the Senate to quickly pass this measure so that we can get assistance to our producers now."