As Drought Intensifies, Farm Groups Fear Disaster Assistance Will Be a Tough Sell

Crop commodity prices improved the past six months, but it’s not rosy everywhere. The western half of the country continues to see little moisture, and it’s exacerbating the extreme drought conditions. 


The latest U.S. Drought Monitor shows more than 60% of the country is seeing some level of drought. The worst of it is parked in the West where nearly 90% of the area is covered in drought. The worst level – which the Monitor refers to as exceptional drought – blankets 20% of the West. 


The High Plains region isn’t any better. More than 90% of that region faces dryness, and in Texas, 80% of the state is under drought conditions, a five-point jump in just a week.


The lack of moisture is on the minds of commodity groups, like the National Sorghum Producers (NSP), especially as some producers face the possibility of not producing a crop due to lack of moisture.

“We do have a group of our membership that has just gone through a really tough drought situation, and they're still in the middle of it,” says Tim Lust, CEO of NGP. “So, items like Whip + or Whip 2020 are very important for a group of our membership that didn't have a crop. They can't take advantage of higher prices, they can't take advantage of demand, because they didn't have a crop.”

Last year, some of those farmers were eligible for the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program-Plus (WHIP+). The Further Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2020, passed by Congress and signed by President Trump in December 2019, provided an additional $1.5 billion for the continuation of disaster assistance programs through WHIP+. While the funding was beneficial to those faced weather challenges last year, drought is a major concern for the 2021 growing season. 

Lust fears it will be tougher to get funding passed by Congress this year, especially coming off a year of record ad hoc government payments for agriculture.  The commodity group CEO says even with or without an administration change, lobbying for programs like Whip+ will be difficult this year. But he hopes members of Congress will step up to the plate and deliver the help some of these producers need right now.  


Latest News

NCBA Reports On Q1 Voluntary Price Discovery Framework

NCBA president Jerry Bohn said a major trigger in negotiated trade data was tripped during the first quarter of 2021, as determined by the Live Cattle Marketing Working Group Regional Triggers Subgroup.

TSCRA Disaster Relief Fund Distributes Aid

Thanks to contributions from across the U.S., Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association Disaster Relief Fund mailed checks totaling $112,750 to cattle raisers financially burdened by February’s Winter Storm Uri.

Retail Beef Sales Remain Strong During February

Sales of all food and beverage items during February were 11.8% higher than during February 2020, and the meat department was an above-average performer.

Land Grab or Climate Solution? President Biden Could Unveil '30 by 30' Plan Details Next Week

Details of a U.S. land and water related executive order could be unveiled soon. Known as the ’30 by 30’ plan, it would place 30% of U.S. lands and 30% of U.S. waters under federal jurisdiction by 2030.

Ranching by the Seat of Your Pants

Oregon rancher Alec Oliver was determined to return to ranching and working from horseback after he was paralyzed in a vehicle accident nearly a decade ago.

CRP ground rotator
Vilsack Hints at Possible CRP Changes Coming Soon with Biden's 30 By 30 Plan

CRP could be in focus again. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said this week that he thinks greater opportunities are coming for landowners to take less productive farmland out of production and place into CRP.