Washington (Jan. 13, 2003) - Texas Farmers Union (TFU) President, Wes Sims and other members returned from Washington this week optimistic that federal aid for agricultural natural disasters may be forthcoming.
Sims and about 100 other farmers, ranchers and rural businesspeople pushed for emergency aid for farmers and ranchers hit with the most widespread natural disasters since the Dust Bowl. Lawmakers presented several disaster relief proposals before the group left Washington.
The coalition, comprised of 39 organizations and led by National Farmers Union, agreed on three disaster aid must-haves:
1) The assistance must be all-inclusive, meaning it would cover all crop and livestock production and quality losses due to any natural disaster.
2) The assistance must be comprehensive, covering all losses for both 2001 and 2002 production years, and
3) The aid should come from "emergency" funds and not from cuts in farm bill programs.
Meanwhile, White House Agriculture Adviser Chuck Conner, who met with the group of farmers and rural businesspeople, outlined the three criteria the administration would use to judge a disaster plan: its cost, budget offsets and whether it would "move us closer to self-reliance".
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Secretary Ann M. Veneman declared more than 80 percent of all U.S. counties as agricultural disasters in 2002 and 48.6 percent of all counties in 2001.
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