I welcome President Bush's signing of legislation yesterday to establish a drought early-warning system that will help state and local officials mitigate the effects of drought. I introduced a bill creating the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS), modeled after the Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Removing some of the unpredictability of drought will allow us to also avoid some of its devastation. The advanced and accurate research from NIDIS will aid in the preventive battle against this natural disaster that afflicts Nebraska's farmers and ranchers. This legislation will not only be effective, but also cost-efficient.

Earlier this year Dr. Don Wilhite from the UNL Drought Mitigation Center testified that a system like NIDIS is a cost-effective approach to drought because for every dollar invested in mitigation and preparedness, four dollars are saved through reduced impacts when a natural disaster occurs.

Establishing a system to mitigate the damage of drought is an exciting step forward for our farmers and ranchers. Unfortunately, the past damage of this drought still lingers in many areas of the country and I will renew my efforts to pass a needed multi-billion dollar emergency drought assistance package in the upcoming 110th Congress.