LIMA — There’s no question about it: Northern Ohio is in extreme drought. With Van Wert and other Ohio counties declared in a drought emergency by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, some local farmers are going to want a helping hand from the federal government.
But that hand may not be extended in the future. With a Sept. 30 deadline looming, Congress is in turmoil when it comes to passing a new farm bill that would help farmers during summers such as this one with rampant drought.
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, who sits on the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, said he hopes the five-year bill passed through the senate in June will be adopted by the House before time runs out.
The Senate bill provides crop insurance and aid for struggling farmers, Brown said, which is pertinent in droughts such as the one farmers are now facing. A House committee approved a separate bill earlier in July, but the entire House has not yet agreed on a bill.
Brown said the Senate bill offers livestock disaster programs along with shielding aid for fruit and vegetable growers. The former farm bill was passed in 2008 and included crop and livestock insurance measures.
"I’ve heard many opponents talk repeatedly, saying that there’s too much uncertainty in the economy to pass the five-year farm bill," Brown said. "But this farm bill is so important and disaster relief is so important. Ohio farmers need a long-term bill to pull through this."
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