Sen. John Thune (S.D.), a longtime member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, this week wrote to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to encourage him to prioritize several provisions of the 2018 Farm Bill that relate to improving the accuracy of the Drought Monitor.
These provisions of the new law were first introduced in May 2018 as part of Thune’s Improved Soil Moisture and Precipitation Monitoring Act of 2018, which provides tools and direction to USDA to help improve the accuracy of the Drought Monitor, and requires the coordination of USDA agencies that use precipitation data to determine livestock grazing loss assistance and stocking rates. Thune drafted and introduced this legislation after hearing directly from several concerned ranchers at a 2018 agriculture roundtable event in South Dakota.
“In addition, I request that the U.S. Forest Service coordinate with FSA and RMA when establishing annual carrying capacities on USFS grazing lands to ensure that carrying capacities are consistent and commensurate with grazing loss assistance offered by FSA and RMA,” Thune wrote. “This would eliminate situations in the past when FSA and RMA determined that drought conditions were not severe enough to trigger livestock grazing loss assistance, yet the USFS reduced carrying capacities in the same area on its grazing lands.”
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American Sheep Industry Association