Iowa Public Television


Drought Aid Depends on Federal Budget Cuts

posted on February 7, 2003

Hello, I'm Sid Sprecher. Mark Pearson is off this week.

On Friday Wall Street's bulls cheered the news of lower than expected unemployment numbers. But the prospect of War continues to dampen markets. The Homeland Security Office has raised its terrorist threat level, an action that doesn't encourage investors.

Moreover concerns about deflation remain, even as commodity prices continue to rise. The CRB index, which we quote on this program, is running at historic highs. Usually that signals a return of inflation.

Adding to the climate of homeland insecurity for Rural Americans is the rising prospect of drought.


Drought Aid Depends on Federal Budget Cuts

The lack of snow pack in much of the mountain west is feeding worries on the plains. A Nebraska Department of Natural Resources spokesman warns some farmers may not get enough irrigation water to raise a crop this year. The latest weather service maps show much of the nation's breadbasket is in the grip of a severe drought.

In Washington the wrangling continues over disaster relief for last year's drought. It's expected a package will emerge that will direct relief to those afflicted both this year and last.

The White House says it will support the aid, if the source is from cuts made to existing agricultural programs. Some farm groups fear that means conservation programs will be reduced. But there are efforts in the works to reintroduce limits on farm subsidy payments. The payment limitations were soundly defeated in the Farm Bill debate, but demands for drought assistance and prospects of large federal budget deficits are renewing interest in the concept.

Senate Republicans Charles Grassley of Iowa and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska are developing legislation that would lower the current ceiling on total government payments to farmers by more than a third.

Tags: agriculture Congress disaster relief drought news weather