On Thursday, the House of Representatives passed a $383 million emergency relief package for our livestock producers struggling with severe drought conditions. The funding for the bill, which did not increase the deficit, came from transfers within current farm programs. l supported the drought assistance package to provide certainty to those producers who are ineligible for crop insurance.
This disaster assistance would have reauthorized the programs that expired at the end of fiscal year 2011, such as the Livestock Indemnity Payments, the Livestock Forage Disaster Programs, and other programs. Although I have fought for a five-year farm bill and believe it is the best solution, I voted for this assistance because it is the least we can do for our producers during this crisis. Unfortunately, the Senate leadership refused to take the bill up this week, preventing this assistance from reaching those that desperately need it.
The House Agriculture Committee overwhelmingly approved a bipartisan, five-year bill earlier this month which saves $35 billion while making substantial reforms. I have repeatedly asked leadership to bring this bill to the floor so that the 2.2 million farmers and ranchers in this country will have a sustainable, long-term options for their risk management.
We are now enduring the worst drought we have seen in 50 years, and it is shameful that the bipartisan farm bill is getting caught up in Washington election year politics. In my district alone, there are 20,000 farmers and ranchers that need certainty and stability to move forward. Many producers are already looking to next year to decide whether to plant corn, soybeans or wheat.
I am hopeful Senate leaders will reconsider their decision to play politics with the disaster bill in short order. However, whether that bill passes or fails, Congress must pass a five-year bill when we return in September. Historically, the farm bill has allowed producers a five-year window to adequately plan for the future. Without a more long-term reauthorization, it will be difficult for producers to continue to provide an abundant, affordable and safe food supply during these tough economic times.