"Drought is a natural hazard with often significant societal, economic, and environmental consequences. Public policy issues related to drought range from how to identify and measure drought to how best to prepare for, mitigate, and respond to drought impacts, and who should bear associated costs. The 2012 drought is fueling congressional interest in near-term issues, such as current (and recently expired) federal programs and their funding, and long-term issues, such as improving drought forecasting and the mix of federal drought relief and mitigation actions. As of August 2012, drought has extended across more than two-thirds of the United States and has adversely affected agricultural producers and others. More than 1,400 counties in 33 states have been designated as disaster counties by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. Several bills are pending in Congress that would provide drought assistance or otherwise address current drought conditions. Most attention has focused on the extension of expired disaster assistance programs in separate versions of a 2012 farm bill (Senate-passed S. 3240 and House Agriculture Committee-passed H.R. [House Resolution] 6083), and a House-passed stand alone bill (H.R. 6233) to provide livestock and disaster tree assistance for FY2012."
CRS Report for Congress, RL34580