USA — WASHINGTON – With the farm bill stalled in the House and Oregon farmers and ranchers hit hard by 2012s historic wildfires, Oregon Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden on Wednesday urged President Obama to include wildfire relief in any disaster aid package before the end of this year.
A supplemental disaster relief package is expected to move through Congress in December due to Superstorm Sandy.
In the letter sent Wednesday, the senators wrote that opportunities to fund these programs this year are slipping away.
“While months have passed since the droughts and wildfires this summer, the impacts are still being felt by families across the country, and the need for assistance remains great. Now is the time to assemble a disaster relief package that will help American families regain their footing after having lost crops, livestock, homes, and lives.
News reports indicate that President Obama is preparing this week to send a detailed request to Congress for emergency disaster relief.
Key disaster relief programs at the USDA expired at the end of 2011, leaving farmers and ranchers who have lost livestock or grazing land with few options.
A reauthorization of those programs was included in the farm bill passed by the Senate in June, but the House has not passed a farm bill, preventing the bill from reaching the presidents desk.
In July, Senator Merkley introduced a stand-alone bill extending programs that assist farmers and ranchers that were impacted by the historic wildfires and drought in 2012.
The failure was in the forest areas.Advertisement
Following a 10-year strategy, ACT fire managers have created a mosaic across the landscape of different fuel levels, burning at every opportunity.
But forests have been too wet to burn this spring and the past two summers.
A network of 500 fire trails and strategic burns along the north-west urban edge, heavy grazing and extra grass slashing will create a fortress for the territory which forecasters say faces a higher than average risk this summer.
After a fire-fuelled tornado in January 2003 killed four Canberrans and frightened thousands more, CSIRO fire expert Phil Cheney told the subsequent inquiry the fire’s penetration into urban areas under extreme conditions did not reflect a failure of fuel management on the urban interface.