Drought monitoring bill approved by Senate committee

Bill passed out of Senate Commerce Committee reauthorizes the National Integrated Drought Information System.

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation passed the Drought Information Act of 2013 (S. 376), which reauthorizes the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS).

Initially authorized in 2006, NIDIS provides vital drought information to farmers, ranchers, and other industries affected by drought-related weather conditions and since 2006, government agencies have worked to develop a long-term plan for drought monitoring, forecasting, research, and education. S. 376 would extend this program for five years and support an improved “early warning system” of timely and accurate drought information. By increasing coordination with existing partners, including the United States Department of Agriculture and the private sector, this bill would also boost the agriculture industry’s involvement in the program.

“NIDIS is a critically important tool that provides agricultural producers with early warning information they need to prepare for drought conditions,” said Senate Commerce Committee ranking member John Thune (R., S.D.). “The financial stress and uncertainty created by droughts make tools like this vital for farmers and ranchers to prepare for drought occurrences, such as the widespread drought of 2012. I am pleased we were able to move this bipartisan legislation through the Commerce Committee and hope it will receive floor consideration in the Senate during this session of Congress.”

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