Senators John Thune and Ben Ray Luján recently introduced the Livestock Disaster Assistance Improvement Act. The bipartisan legislation by the South Dakota Republican and New Mexico Democrat would improve the effectiveness and timeliness of multiple Department of Agriculture programs that assist farmers and ranchers in the aftermath of adverse weather events. The legislation would also provide USDA with direction to help improve the accuracy of the U.S. Drought Monitor, which triggers certain disaster programs. Thune says, “These common-sense updates to disaster programs would help provide greater and expedited assistance to farmers and ranchers when they need it the most.” The legislation would update the Emergency Conservation Program and Emergency Forest Restoration Program to clarify that state and federal grazing permit holders are eligible for these programs. The bill also allows the Farm Service Agency to waive the 30-day public comment period for Bureau of Land Management National Environmental Policy Act applications during a drought emergency, among other changes.
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