U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, this week introduced legislation (S. 2200) to reauthorize the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS), which provides vital drought information to farmers, ranchers, and other industries affected by severe weather conditions. This legislation would encourage important partnerships with the private sector, integrate seasonal and subseasonal drought and water forecasts, and support ongoing soil moisture monitoring to better aid farmers.
“As South Dakota farmers and ranchers recover from devastating drought conditions, it’s important that Congress stays on the ball when it comes to updating critical drought tools like NIDIS,” said Thune. “This updated legislation improves current law while complementing the subseasonal provisions of my weather bill that was enacted earlier this year, keeping South Dakotans better informed and prepared to handle potential droughts.”
NIDIS was established by Congress in 2006 with an interagency mandate to coordinate and integrate drought research and create a national drought early warning system. The early warning system utilizes new and existing partner networks to optimize the expertise of a wide range of federal, tribal, state, local, and academic partners in order to make climate and drought science readily available, easily understandable, and usable for decision makers. It would also improve the capacity of stakeholders to better monitor, forecast, plan for, and cope with the impacts of drought. The NIDIS program is a function of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, of which the Commerce Committee has jurisdiction.