While USDA forecasts the nation's corn and soybeans to be on track for the second-best harvest ever, farm-state lawmakers are trying to get the relief legislation through the House before Congress adjourns for the midterm elections. They say farmers need help now, noting severe drought, floods, hurricanes and higher energy prices; all have had a devastating affect on farmers and ranchers. Some producers have weathered the hottest summer since the Dust Bowl, and drought has persisted in a path from Montana to Texas.
In Oklahoma, officials fear livestock producers won't get enough drought aid despite USDA's announcement last month of an $800 million relief package for farmers and ranchers. Oklahoma officials say $700 million of that was advance crop assistance payments and not new aid. The drought has fueled wildfires that have destroyed 600,000 acres of land in the state, eliminating grazing pastures and forcing many ranchers to liquidate their herds.