"Two-thirds of the continental United States was under moderate to exceptional drought with 40 percent of U.S. counties declared agricultural disaster areas," notes Charles Abbott of Reuters. "Livestock producers with drought-stunted pastures face skyrocketing feed prices," and "Programs that allowed the Agriculture Department to share the cost of livestock feed or to help fruit, vegetable and tree farmers expired at the end of 2011."
Democratic votes would be needed to pass a bill because many conservative Republicans with little agribusiness in their districts object to some of the subsidies, particularly dairy, in the bill approved by the House Agriculture Committee. Perhaps more importantly, they say it would cut too little from the food-stamp program, which is about 80 percent of the bill's cost. "With the severe drought now pounding much of the country, this has become a genuine political problem for farm state Republicans running in November," Rogers writes. "And the House leadership must contend with friendly fire now from fellow Republicans in the Senate." (Read more)
In an editorial titled "Ease up on the drought drama," The Washington Post said, "The flawed bill is irrelevant to the farm belt’s current predicament, and it could perversely magnify losses from future natural disasters" because its shift to crop insurance "encourages farmers to cultivate marginal land and engage in other risky practices." (Read more)