Bipartisan, Udall-Led Effort Successfully Reauthorizes Critical, Boulder-Based Drought Program That Protects Farmers, Ranchers, Local Communities

Here’s the release from Senator Udall’s office:

U.S. Senator Mark Udall welcomed the passage today of bipartisan legislation he spearheaded to reauthorize the Boulder-based National Integrated Drought Information System, which provides vital drought information to farmers, ranchers and other industries affected by weather conditions. The bipartisan bill, supported by Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.), now heads to the president for his signature.

“The recent severe drought has staggered Colorado’s farmers and ranchers. It’s the reason I have fought in Congress to improve our ability to forecast and monitor droughts and strengthen programs that help farmers coping with drought,” Mark Udall said. “This bipartisan legislation, which I championed, will ensure the Boulder-based National Integrated Drought Information System has the resources it needs to protect our way of life in the West and keep Colorado and the nation’s job-creating agricultural economy thriving.”

“For years now, Arkansas has been dealing with the devastating effects of drought and severe weather conditions,” Pryor said. “Our bipartisan bill gives our farmers, ranchers, and local communities the tools and information they need manage resources, protect crops and livestock, and prevent economic losses. The passage of this bill is yet another win for Arkansas’s agricultural industry.”

“Droughts create tremendous uncertainty and financial losses for farmers and ranchers who depend on tools like NIDIS,” Thune said. “I am pleased that this legislation has cleared both chambers and I urge President Obama to sign the bill. As a member of the Agriculture Committee and the Ranking Member of the Senate Commerce Committee that has jurisdiction over this program, I know the improvements we made to this program will provide better information to agriculture producers as well as businesses and local governments that experience the effects of drought conditions.”

“This bill is vital for New Mexico farmers, ranchers and communities dealing with the sixth consecutive drier-than-average year,” Tom Udall said. “Information from the NIDIS helps farmers and ranchers prevent livestock losses and determine how to protect their crops, and that’s critical to sustain our agricultural economy. I applaud the bipartisan support for this bill, and I’m going to continue to fight for resources and information that will help New Mexicans adapt and respond to water scarcity.”

Since the NIDIS Act was signed into law in 2006, government agencies have worked to develop a long-term plan for drought prevention, research and education. The bill extends the program for five years and supports an interactive “early warning system” of timely and accurate drought information, as well an integrated weather monitoring and forecasting system. The National Integrated Drought Information System Reauthorization Act of 2013 is the companion bill to the Drought Information Act, which Udall and the senators introduced in February 2013.

Mark Udall has been a strong advocate for communities and industries that have been affected by the recent record-setting drought. He urged Congress this week to extend crucial water conservation and monitoring for communities that count on reliable access to water. He recently helped broker a deal last year to maintain funding for the Snow Survey and Water Supply Forecasting Program, which monitors snowpack in Colorado’s mountains and helps water managers forecast supply issues before they occur. Udall also has been the leading proponent of protecting the Colorado River and finding innovative ways to better manage our water to meet rising demand throughout the West.

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