Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the U.S. House needs to pass the farm bill upon its return to session next month.
Vilsack, a former Iowa Governor, met with ag producers and ethanol industry representatives Friday in Omaha. His meeting came as the USDA announced that the corn production forecast is 17 percent below original projections. The soybean harvest is projected to be the lowest since 2003.
Vilsack says delayed action by the House on a new farm bill puts assistance to ag producers at risk, because extending the conversation past the November general election puts agriculture spending at risk of being cut. He says 85 percent of corn producers have crop insurance, up from 25 percent in 1988, the last time a significant drought hit Nebraska and Iowa.
Public lands are being opened up for haying and grazing. President Obama also recently signed off on $30 million worth of assistance to livestock producers.
The latest report from the National Drought Mitigation Center shows 90 percent of Nebraska and 60 percent of Iowa are in a severe drought.