Seventeen Senators have written Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) and Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) asking the Senate consider a disaster-assistance package for ag as soon as the Senate returns in September.

The senators wrote, "The most recent U.S. Drought Monitor [www.drought.unl.edu/dm/monitor.html] illustrates a severe drought now covers an area from North Dakota to southern Texas; from western Arizona to Georgia. This drought will only worsen as we progress through the summer. Farmers and ranchers are running out of options and, more importantly time. We strongly urge you to agree upon a scheduled time on the legislative calendar to debate and quickly pass an agriculture disaster assistance package."

Among the signers were Wayne Allard (R-CO), Max Baucus (D-MT), Kit Bond (R-MO), Sam Brownback (R-KS), Conrad Burns (R-MT), Kent Conrad (D-ND), Mark Dayton (D-MN), Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Chuck Hagel (R-NE), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), Ben Nelson (D-NE), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Ken Salazar (D-CO), Jim Talent (R-MO), and John Thune (R-SD).
-- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C., correspondent