Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutionsby Former Senator Max Baucus
Posted on 2013-01-24
BAUCUS (for himself, Ms. Stabenow, and Mr. Blunt):
S. 141. A bill to make supplemental agricultural disaster assistance
available for fiscal years 2012 and 2013, and for other purposes; to
the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry.
Mr. BAUCUS. Mr. President, last year the U.S. experienced the most severe and extensive drought in at least 25 years.
While the impacts of the drought affected both crop and livestock sectors, our commodity farmers have had some protection under crop insurance. With the House not passing a 5 year reauthorization of the Farm Bill last year, we have left one sector of agriculture to fend for themselves.
Our ranchers across the country and in my home State of Montana have experienced the most extensive drought since the 1950. About 80 percent of agricultural land experienced drought in 2012.
As last year came and went, a drought stretched across the United States.
Wheat and corn fields dried up. Without enough forage, ranchers faced the decision to either to sell their herds or purchase extra feed, cutting into their thin margins.
As of this week, over 2,000 counties have been designated as drought disaster areas by the USDA.
In my state of Montana, 36 counties, or well over half of our State, are in disaster. Compound that with one of the worst droughts in recent history and our cattle and sheep producers are hanging on by a thread.
Where our corn, wheat, and soybean farmers have crop insurance as a backstop, we have left our ranchers without any assistance.
Pastureland last year was scarce and the cost of feed, when it was even available, was often unaffordable. Many ranchers are responding by culling their herds.
That is why I have introduced the supplemental agricultural disaster assistance. This bill takes the three livestock disaster program I created in the 2008 Farm Bill and extends them for 2012 and 2013 losses.
Covering losses from 2012 and 2013 will give our livestock producers some assistance through one of the worst droughts anyone in this chamber can remember. It will also cover our ranchers until the House and Senate can complete the 2013 Farm Bill.
These livestock disaster programs expired in September 2011, leaving our livestock producers with no safety net. For over a year and a half, through one of the worst droughts in recent memory, our producers have been left to fend for themselves.
Congress must make the responsible decision and pass this standalone bill I introduce today with Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chairwomen of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and Senator Roy Blunt.
We must do our jobs and pass this basic safety net for ranchers.
______ By Mrs. FEINSTEIN (for herself, Mr. Schumer, Mr. Durbin, Mr. Whitehouse, Mr. Blumenthal, Mr. Levin, Mr. Rockefeller, Ms. Mikulski, Mrs. Boxer, Mr. Reed, Mr. Lautenberg, Mr. Menendez, Mr. Cardin, Mrs. Gillibrand, Mr. Schatz, Mr. Murphy, Ms. Warren, and Mr. Carper): S. 150. A bill to regulate assault weapons, to ensure that the right to keep and bear arms is not unlimited, and for other purposes; to the Committee on the Judiciary.