Drought information bill would cost $65 million, CBO says

By Derrick Cain

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, Sept. 5, 2013 - Legislation (S. 376) that seeks to reauthorize the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS), which provides drought information to farmers and ranchers, would cost $65 million over four years, according to an estimate released today by the Congressional Budget Office.

The bill, introduced Feb. 25 by Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., would authorize appropriations of $14.5 million annually over the 2014-2018 period for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to maintain the system.

The legislation, with four co-sponsors, was reported out favorably by the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee July 30.

“Farmers and ranchers need timely information about droughts so they can take the necessary precautions to protect their crops and livestock,” Pryor said.

Since the NIDIS Act was signed into law, Pryor said, government agencies have worked to develop a long-term plan for drought prevention, research, and education. The bill would extend the program and support an interactive “early warning system” of timely and accurate drought information, as well an integrated weather monitoring and forecasting system.

“All drought response and disaster declarations are based on the drought monitor, which is part of the NIDIS,” co-sponsor Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., said. “Preserving these programs gives farmers and ranchers the best chance as they face the biggest asset and challenge in agriculture - Mother Nature.”

In 2012, the United States was hit by one of the worst droughts in half a century. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, nearly 65 percent of the contiguous U.S. suffered from moderate drought.

#30

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