Drought Assistance Needs Offsets

Ag Secretary Johanns says he'll wait until harvest results come in before voicing support for a drought package. Jacqui Fatka

Published on: Aug 3, 2006

Heat continues to plague the country, causing stress on crops. However, Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns says if any drought assistance is needed, it will have to be funded within the farm bill's budget parameters.

In 2005 final harvest results surprised farmers, Johanns explains, adding "you have to do everything you can to help the farmer and the rancher get through the summer into the fall, and then you have to start checking yields to see what a package might look like."

Elections years tend to bring cries for disaster packages. Johanns says the position of the administration has been that the original farm bill was sized based upon disaster relief packages that led up to that. "If there's a desire to find disaster relief you have to go within the confines of that bill to find that relief," he says. In the past, conservation programs have seen funding shifted to disaster payments.

Meanwhile, Johanns says USDA's been working on drought issues through the summer by opening up conservation acres, much broader than probably ever has been done.