(CNN) – President Obama is calling on Congress to pass a bill to help farmers respond to the nation’s intense drought, saying, “Too many Americans are suffering right now to let politics get in the way.”
“Many folks are seeing their livelihoods dry up in front of their eyes,” said Obama in the White House's weekly address. “And if we don’t get relief soon, Americans everywhere will start feeling the pinch, with higher prices on grocery store shelves all across the country.”
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Obama, pointing to July’s record heat levels and the country’s worst drought in more than 50 years affecting over half of the country, said, “We can’t let that happen. That’s why, at my direction, the Department of Agriculture, led by Secretary Vilsack, has been working with other agencies across the federal government to make sure we’re doing everything we can to help farmers and ranchers fight back and recover from this disaster.”
On Tuesday, Obama directed the Department of Agriculture to give $30 million in drought relief. He also called on Congress to pass a $500 billion farm bill.
Obama said in the weekly address that Congress needs to pass a bill that does more than help the farmers affected by the extreme conditions and “gives them some certainty year-round” by making necessary reforms.
Congress adjourned for the summer on August 2 without passing a drought relief package for farmers and ranchers. Congress has agreed to take the issue up again after Labor Day.
Last week the Republican-controlled House passed a $383 million disaster relief bill, which would restore various expired farm programs. In June, the Democratic-controlled Senate passed a comprehensive five-year farm bill that would renew the programs in question while cutting the deficit by roughly $23 billion.
CNN Senior Congressional Reporter Dana Bash contributed to this report