The House of Representatives took a much-needed step when it overwhelmingly passed HR5015, the Drought Assistance Act of 1988, Rep. James Hansen, R-Utah, says.

The bill passed 368 to 29."Our farmers have been through the worst drought in 50 years, and federal emergencies have been declared in 31 states. To address economic distress caused by Mother Nature, Congress has taken much-needed measures to provide relief for our farmers," Hansen said.

"I expected this bill to pass overwhelmingly, and I was pleased that it passed by such a large margin. Because of a long-standing commitment in Utah, I was unable to stay for a complete consideration of this bill. However, I made arrangements to pair my vote prior to my departure to demonstrate my support for this legislation," he said.

Hansen said Cache County may soon become Utah's first county to ask for drought designation, which would make county residents eligible for drought relief.

HR5015 authorizes the Commodity Credit Corp. to extend emergency livestock feed assistance to eligible counties. Also, the measure establishes an emergency program for forage crops damaged by the drought and provides disaster assistance to farmers who lose a substantial portion of their crops. In also cancels a 50-cent drop in the support price for milk to dairy farmers adversely affected by the increase in feed prices caused by the drought.

"Congress was under great pressure to come to the aid of our drought-stricken farmers. We needed an equitable bill that would help those farmers who need it most. Although this was not a perfect bill, it is generally a no-nonsense approach that addresses the drought problem in a responsible way," Hansen said.