Idaho Examiner - Sen. Larry Craig News Releases

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

CRAIG COSPONSORS BILL TO COORDINATE DROUGHT RESPONSE

Bipartisan bill to create national drought policy
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Idaho Senator Larry Craig joined a bipartisan group of his colleagues today in cosponsoring S.802, the National Drought Preparedness Act of 2005. The legislation would create a national policy for drought, improve delivery of federal drought programs, create new tools for drought preparedness planning, and improve forecasting and monitoring of drought conditions.

“For five years or more now, drought has ravaged communities, as well as crop and range land across Idaho, causing great destruction to the people who count on the land for a living,” Craig said. “This legislation will leave us much better prepared to deal with drought proactively by providing the necessary tools and resources to predict, prepare and deliver drought assistance much more effectively in the future.”

The bill intends to accomplish the following objectives:

• Create a national policy for drought: The bill moves the country away from the costly, response-oriented approach to drought and toward a pro-active, preparedness approach. The new national policy will provide the tools and focus for
Federal, State, tribal and local governments to address the diverse impacts and
costs caused by drought.

• Improve delivery of federal drought programs: To ensure improved program delivery, integration and leadership, the National Drought Preparedness Act
establishes the National Drought Council under the direction of the Secretary of
Agriculture. The Council will build on existing programs and provide the
coordinating and integrating function for federal drought programs while making
recommendations to improve existing federal drought programs.

• Provide new tools for drought preparedness planning: Building on existing water policy, the Drought Council will assist states, local governments, tribes and
other entities in the development and implementation of drought preparedness
plans. The bill does not mandate state and local planning, but is intended
to facilitate the development and implementation of drought plans through
establishment of a “Drought Assistance Fund.” Importantly, the bill also
preserves state authority over water allocation.

• Improve forecasting and monitoring: The Drought Council will facilitate the
development of the National Integrated Drought System in order to improve the
characterization of current drought conditions and the forecasting of future
droughts, as well as provide a better basis to “trigger” federal drought assistance.

For more information on what Senator Craig is doing for agriculture, please visit http://craig.senate.gov/i_agactionplan.htm.

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