Farmers Union Calls for Emergency
Disaster Assistance in Farm Bill

WASHINGTON (April 22, 2002) -- Last fall, drought-damaged crops and blowing topsoil replaced green fields on many farms across the country. As farm bill conferees continue negotiations, Texas Farmers Union (TFU) is urging U.S. House leaders to support a Senate measure that would assist producers harmed by drought and other natural disasters.

"Farmers across the nation have suffered substantial economic losses from adverse weather and disease during the 2001 crop year," said TFU President Wes Sims. "These disasters resulted in massive crop production and quality losses, as well as losses impacting livestock producers through reduced feed availability, higher feed costs and forced liquidations."

The TFU Board sent letters to Ag Committee chairman, Larry Combest, Minority Leader, Charles Stenholm and the House Leadership, Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., Majority Leader Richard Armey, R-Texas, and Minority Leader Richard Gephardt, D-Mo., asking the House to support the Senate-passed disaster assistance in the farm bill conference. The Senate provision would designate as emergency money: $18 billion in crop production loss assistance, $500 million in livestock assistance, and $100 million in market loss assistance for apple growers.

In response to severe drought conditions in his home state of Montana, Sen. Max Baucus introduced the emergency disaster assistance in the Senate last fall.

The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture designated the entire state of Montana a disaster area. Significant portions of many other states were also declared disaster areas due to drought, disease and insect infestations. Disaster losses in Texas are significantly larger than those of any other state.

"These losses are negatively impacting the livelihoods of family farmers and ranchers and their rural communities in all regions of the state," Sims said. "These needs are immediate and disaster assistance with an emergency designation is necessary."

Texas Farmers Union, P.O. Box 738, Sweetwater, Tx 79556