CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Ohio won't see much rain in the coming week, but farmers could still get drought relief in the form of expanded crop insurance if Congress can pass a new farm bill before the current one expires on Sept 30.
With much of the state experiencing moderate to extreme drought conditions, Joe Cornely, a spokesman with the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, said farmers can take advantage of the federally-backed program that gives them some protection against weather loss or conditions beyond their control.
"There are federal programs, but to be honest, they are very small and they tend not to be extremely helpful," Cornely said. "We no longer have a federal farm disaster program. That went away with the requirement that farmers buy more crop insurance in 2011."
Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate are split over details of what a new farm program would include -- GOP leaders think the food stamp program should be reduced, and Democrats reject the idea of only a short-term solution. The Associated Press reported that the House dropped a bill containing a one-year extension Tuesday in favor of pursuing immediate help for farmers affected by the drought. The bill being debated in the Senate suggested a five-year extension.
Republican Sen. Rob Portman said in a statement that he'd only support the bill if the House will send back one that is more "fiscally responsible."
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