The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) was among the groups testifying on behalf of the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) at a congressional hearing this week. The NIDIS was established via a 2006 law in order to provide national drought data and information. Funding for the system is set to expire at the end of this fiscal year. A draft bill proposes to extend NIDIS funding through 2017.

AFBF says timely drought data and information is critical for farmers and markets, especially in light of the current drought situation. Reauthorization of the NIDIS is a priority for the organization, said AFBF board member and Maryland Farm Bureau President Patricia Langenfelder.

Speaking on behalf of AFBF before the House Subcommittee on Energy and Environment, Langenfelder, a hog and crop farmer, said that “much of the nation is currently in the grip of a significant drought that will ultimately touch the lives of every agricultural producer and consumer in this country. For this reason alone, it is important to have the best, most up-to-date information on the nation’s drought conditions.”

NIDIS provides an unparalleled set of data and graphics on drought conditions in the United States. By coordinating the data collection, summarization and dissemination efforts of multiple entities, NIDIS has become an invaluable tool within the agricultural community. The system puts relevant weather and climate data at the fingertips of farmers, market analysts, researchers, Extension professionals, crop consultants and anyone else with an interest in U.S. agricultural production, allowing them to more adequately plan for and respond to a drought’s impacts.

“This kind of data allows market participants to determine what crops are being most directly impacted by drought and to incorporate that information into market analysis, price projections and risk management planning,” Langenfelder said.

“It’s imperative that America’s farmers, ranchers and the market system have the best information available to protect against the vagaries of uncertain weather,” Lagenfelder continued. “Farm Bureau supports reauthorization of NIDIS because it provides the nation’s farmers, ranchers and markets an effective drought warning system for key indicators of drought conditions and impacts.”

Read about the NIDIS a the U.S. Drought Portal online at http://www.drought.gov/portal/server.pt/community/what_is_nidis/207