Waco, Texas (June 27, 2001) -- Texas Farmers Union (TFU) President Wes Sims was joined in his call for U.S Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman to take action against the spread of Karnal Bunt in the Texas wheat crop. Sims was joined by the full board of directors of the National Farmers Union in a call to develop a plan to manage the containment of this disease. He also called for adequate compensation for producers and other injured parties due to this disease that has the potential to spread through the Great Plains, infect storage facilities and cause substantial economic harm to producers, storage facilities and shippers due to a previous lack of oversight.
"The U.S. has the safest and most secure food and fiber supply in the world and Texas farmers take great pride in this," said Sims. "This is not merely a matter of pride, but of economic viability for farmers. For this reason, we have asked the secretary to expeditiously develop and implement a plan to identify and manage containment for all prodution areas and equipment utilized in places where the disease may exist."
Sims is calling on Secretary Veneman to develop and implement a comprehensive program to deal with Karnal Bunt as it is being spread through custom harvesting, grain shipping and storage practices and equipment. Failure to identify, contain and limit the disease in a timely fashion has placed at risk wheat crops in many areas of the country. Infected wheat that has been placed in storage and commingled with other grain, which has also become contaminated with this disease that destroys the value of the wheat crop. Sims also urged the secretary to secure federal funds necessary to fully compensate producers and other injured parties for their market losses due to Karnal Bunt for the current crop year as well as in the future, until the disease can be eradicated.
"It is time we begin to monitor harvesting and storage practices that threaten to compound the extreme difficult economic conditions faced by wheat farmers," Sims said. "In order to do this, we need the support of USDA, our colleagues in other states, and our neighbors here in Texas. Farmers Union is prepared to assist the secretary to ensure that effective measures are implemented to rid our crops of this disease."
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