When Senator Max Baucus stood up to speak this week, he painted a bleak picture of the suffering and economic losses taking place in agricultural America.
“As last year came and went, a drought stretched across the United States. Wheat and corn fields dried up. Without enough forage, ranchers faced the decision to either to sell their herds or purchase extra feed, cutting into their thin margins.
As of this week, over 2,000 counties have been designated as drought disaster areas by the USDA. In my state of Montana, 36 counties, or well over half of our State, are in disaster. Compound that with one of the worst droughts in recent history and our cattle and sheep producers are hanging on by a thread.
Where our corn, wheat, and soybean farmers have crop insurance as a backstop, we have left our ranchers without any assistance. Pastureland last year was scarce and the cost of feed, when it was even available, was often unaffordable. Many ranchers are responding by culling their herds.”
Baucus and two other senators, Roy Blunt and Debbie Stabenow, proposed a legislative response: S. 141 would extend an agricultural disaster relief bill, providing money to farmers who suffered economic hardship because of the extreme weather of last year.
S. 141 is like first aid treatment, however. It addresses one instance of harm without even trying to deal with the cause of that harm. Years of economically-devastating extreme weather are becoming more common, at an increasing pace, because climate changed caused by human industrial activity, including the burning of oil, coal and natural gas.
Max Baucus, Roy Blunt and Debbie Stabenow don’t dare to introduce legislation to address the problem of climate change. They prefer to simply throw government money at the disasters that climate change has unleashed.