WASHINGTON (July 11, 2002) -- National Farmers Union and 11 other farm groups sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman today urging the administration's support of and active engagement in securing emergency disaster assistance for farmers and ranchers.
The organizations commended Veneman for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's timely announcements and actions to address natural disasters devastating crop and livestock production in 2001 and 2002. However, the farm organizations pointed out in the letter that there is still a desperate need for emergency programs to "reduce tragic weather- and disease-caused economic impacts experienced by farmers, ranchers and their communities throughout much of rural America."
Texas Farmers Union (TFU) President Wes Sims said the 2002 farm bill was a step forward for rural America in providing a safety net for producers, but that the new farm law fails to provide emergency disaster assistance.
"The new farm bill and its more stable level of funding is incapable of predicting and adequately dealing with natural disasters in advance," Sims said. "Emergency disaster assistance is needed desperately. Disasters affect not only farmers, but also entire rural communities and businesses that depend upon the agriculture economy."
Congress has enacted production loss disaster assistance each of the last four years, but not for producers who suffered losses in 2001. Last year, drought conditions devastated large portions of Texas, Maine, Vermont, California, Tennessee, South Carolina, Ohio, Indiana, New York, New Mexico, Wyoming, Virginia, Washington and Idaho, and the entire state of Montana. "In 2002, the drought has continued in Texas and in several of the other states," Sims stated, "forcing many agriculture producers into struggling to stay afloat due to heavy losses."
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