Proponents of the bill cite the drought’s impact on livestock – and the absence of livestock-specific disaster programs – as the principle reason for the aid package. However, the livestock-specific disaster programs expired in 2011, meaning ranchers knew that they had to plan for possible disasters, including drought. The Washington Post explained that “farmers should have to hedge as other businesses do: by diversifying their product lines, purchasing insurance at market rates, leveraging assets or maintaining cash reserves.”Because livestock producers did not take preventative action, they are now clamoring for a bailout.
The Heritage Foundation also notes that H.R.6233 goes well beyond drought-inflicted livestock losses, by offering “subsidies to ranchers for livestock killed by raptors and wolves (along with hurricanes, floods, blizzards, disease, and extreme cold).” It also includes wildfires. The “drought” bill also covers trees, defined as “a tree, bush, and vine”, impacted by late-season freezes and insect infestations.
Not only does this $383 million spending bill extend well beyond drought aid for livestock farmers, it continues making farmers, ranchers and orchardists more dependent on government and bails them out for not adequately preparing for hardship.
Heritage Action opposes H.R.6233 and will include it as a key vote on our scorecard.