Obama Administration Rolls Out Drought Relief Programs

Jun 16, 2015

Forecasters say drought and wildfire could ravage much of the Western U.S. this summer. To help farmers and ranchers be prepared, the Obama Administration rolled out several programs last week at a press conference for Western governors. Some initiatives could help Wyoming producers.

U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Robert Bonnie said some short term solutions are necessary. One is to reimburse ranchers who lose livestock because of a lack of grass or water.

"The Farm Service Agency’s Livestock Forage Program is particularly important to help livestock producers who’ve had significant losses due to drought," Bonnie says. "Over the last 3 years we’ve paid out over $4 billion and would expect in ’15 we’ll have significant claims under that program as well."

Governor Matt Mead attended the conference on drought relief and, in general, there has been bipartisan support for the programs. They include spending about $110 million dollars to help fight wildfires, implement water saving programs and provide temporary jobs in the hardest hit areas of the country, such as California and the northwest.

Bonnie says other programs would help farmers and ranchers by expanding the Farm Bill.

"Our risk management agency today is announcing increased options under its crop insurance program to help producers who may be impacted by drought. And ensuring that exceptionally bad production years that are impacted by drought don’t affect their ability to get crop insurance coverage in the future."

The crop insurance program will add about $30 million dollars to the program in 2016 and $47 million the year after.