Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) introduced legislation to establish a permanent disaster assistance program under the farm bill.

The bill would provide for a crop and quality loss program with a 35% loss threshold to be eligible, and a payment rate of 65%. It would require producers receiving crop/quality loss payments to participate in the crop insurance program for the next two years, provide for a Livestock Assistance Program to compensate ranchers for feed losses, and a Livestock Indemnity Program to compensate ranchers for losses.

Dorgan said, "We need to strengthen our farm safety net so our producers don't have to worry that a weather-related disaster will prevent them from staying on the farm from one year to the next."

Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN), chairman of the House Ag Committee, has advocated a permanent disaster program and indicated it will be addressed during the 2007 farm bill debate. Joining Dorgan as cosponsors of the legislation were Sens. John Thune (R-SD), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and Kent Conrad (D-ND).
-- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C., correspondent