Drought eradicates the greenLast year, American farmers saw the worst drought in more than half a century. At the same time, some disaster aid programs went unfunded. Why? Blame the expired Farm Bill, of course.

Crop insurance and emergency disaster loans are still available to farmers and ranchers, but other relief programs designed to help during times of drought and other disasters saw their funding end more than a year ago.

But now Congress is considering a bill to reinstate that aid “until” a new farm bill happens. (Hahaha [weep].) From the Governing blog:

Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) is sponsoring legislation that would retroactively restore those disaster relief programs for 2012 fiscal year as well as the rest of the 2013 fiscal year while Congress works on creating another long-term farm bill.

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“These livestock disaster programs expired in September 2011, leaving our livestock producers with no safety net,” Baucus said in introducing his bill. “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.”

In addition to helping to pay for dead livestock, the legislation also provides disaster relief for things like destroyed orchard trees and vines, and it helps cover losses not covered by crop insurance.

There are five disaster programs — all created in the 2008 farm bill — that are among the 37 programs that are missing out on funding. Because Congress hasn’t re-authorized them, losses due to disasters that occurred after September 2011 aren’t covered …

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This is good news for troubled U.S. farmers, but not the greatest for the Farm Bill in total, which looks to be going nowhere fast. Could we get some disaster relief for that, too?

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