(WASHINGTON, D.C.) --- Saying the devastating floods and extreme drought of the last few years have demonstrated the need for a stronger farm safety net, U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) introduced legislation Monday that would re-establish a permanent agriculture disaster assistance program under the Farm Bill.

Though a disaster aid program was for years a staple of the U.S. farm program, the last two Farm Bills did not include reliable disaster assistance - forcing producers to rely on ad hoc legislation when disaster strikes. Dorgan's bill will re-establish a permanent disaster aid program that will help family farmers and ranchers through difficult times.

Dorgan, along with Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND) and a bipartisan group of senators, has pushed Congress to approve disaster assistance for producers who have been hit by weather-related disasters in 2005 and 2006. However, the President and his allies in the U.S. House have so far blocked the effort.

"The outlook for disaster assistance for our family farmers and ranchers is much better in the new Congress, but seeing our efforts blocked repeatedly by the President has made it clear to me that we need to bring back the permanent disaster aid program that producers used to be able to rely on," Dorgan said. "We need to strengthen our farm safety net so our producers don't have to worry that a weather-related disaster will prevent them from staying on the farm from one year to the next."