The drought during Hagel's tenure in the senate actually started in the 1990s. The Press, Media, and Speeches collection only has drought related documents from 2000 to 2008. There are 93 counties in the State of Nebraska. These documents show that all but 4 counties requested emergency assistance between 2000 and 2008 because of the drought.
The drought and the Conservation Reserve Program
The drought became so bad that normal grazing ranges for livestock was not sufficient to keep them fed. Senator Hagel and others petitioned the USDA to release Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land for grazing. Follow the link below to visit a fact sheet on this program.
Drought and the Emergency Feed Program
Not only was there not enough grass and other edible vegetation for livestock, grains used to feed livestock were also in short supply because of the drought. The 2 documents here show some of Hagel's efforts to help ranchers obtain feed grain at an affordable price.
Drought Disaster Declarations
There are 93 counties in the State of Nebraska. This series of 19 documents (21 pages) show that between 2000 and 2006 all but 4 counties had requested emergency assistance because of the drought. At least 67 counties were granted a disaster designation. Three counties were denied. Some counties requested or recieved the disaster designation more than once. There are no records showing whether or not the last 19 counties' requests were granted or denied.
Assistance for damage and losses due to drought
The effects of the drought of the late 1990s and early 2000s was so bad that, in addition to emergency assistance, there was work to pass legislation to mitigate the effects of the drought not only for ranchers and farmers, but also for businesses related to ranching and farming. These 17 documents (20 pages) show press releases and supporting documents related to these efforts.
Preparing for future droughts in order to mitigate the damage
These five documents (six pages) show an effort not to just respond to emergencies, but to plan for future problems. There is also effort on how to deal with drought related disasters before the become so bad.
Criticism of Hagel on the Editorial pages and Senator Hagel's response
Hagel tried very hard to get needed assistance to ranchers and farmers during the drought. He also had to work within the system and within. This set of seven documents (10 pages) show a critique of one of his votes on drought relief. It also shows Hagel and his office's response to the critique.