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Indiana Farmers Say Congress Should Not Delay Drought Relief

Farmers say they need federal assistance soon to make up for the loss they have incurred during the summer drought.

cows

Photo: Bill Shaw/WFIU-WTIU News

Cows are cooled with large fans at a farm in Whiteland, Ind.

The U.S. Senate has failed to take up a drought assistance bill before its August recess, forcing farmers to wait longer for federal relief from a summer that has taken a major toll on both crops and livestock.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the a $383 million short-term assistance bill aimed largely at livestock farmers this week, but the Senate did not take up the measure before it went into recess Friday.

Opponents of the bill argue it will make farmers more dependent on government aid. But livestock farmers at the Indiana State Fair say neither lawmakers nor the general public truly understand the toll that the drought has taken.

“They just don‘t know what it takes to survive on a farm and raise crops,” says Camden farmer Chuck Forgey. “If we don‘t have rain, you can‘t raise anything.”

Cattle Farmer Alan Retherford says if Congress does not act soon, they will have to pay more later.

“It would‘ve been nice if they could‘ve given us a little bit of help, but it‘ll come back to haunt them down the road because the price of food is gonna go up,” he says.

The debate also comes as, some argue, Congress is delaying action on the five-year, $957 billion farm bill which expires next month.

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