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For those hurt by weather: ACGA supports farm disaster bills

The American Corn Growers Association says it supports legislation introduced by Rep. Marion Berry, D-Ark., aimed at providing farmers hurt by 2005 weather disasters with a supplemental payment equal to 50 percent of their 2002 farm bill direct payment.

ACGA President Keith Bolin, a corn farmer from Manlius, Ill., called on the U.S. Senate and the House to act immediately to extend expired emergency assistance for farmers and ranchers who suffered losses to weather in the 2005 crop year.

“The clock is winding down, and Congress is in its perennial two-minute drill,” said Bolin. “Farmers in many parts of the nation are continuing to experience financial hardship due to weather-related disasters, especially the recent hurricane as well as drought in many parts of the country and are also hard-pressed by huge increases in energy costs.

“We must insist on an emergency agriculture assistance package before the final gun is fired on this session of Congress.”

Bolin said several good bills have been introduced to address the dire needs of farm families, but only a few legislative vehicles can carry the measures. “ACGA hopes an emergency farm assistance package can be added to either of the few remaining FY 2006 appropriations bills still pending, or any other legislative initiative which could be passed before year's end.”

He said ACGA is “especially supportive” of legislation introduced by Berry. That bill, the Agricultural Assistance Act of 2005 (H.R. 3702), would provide either a supplemental payment equal to 50 percent of the 2006 direct payment, or crop disaster assistance similar to those offered in recent years.

The measure would also authorize a Livestock Assistance Program (LAP), additional funds for Section 32 to carry out emergency surplus removal of agricultural commodities and a cottonseed assistance program. Sen. Blanch Lincoln, D-Ark., has offered similar legislation in the Senate (S.1804).

“For all the good intentions of the last farm bill and the latest improvements in crop insurance, there is no management tool available which could have prevented the financial devastation associated with the kind of losses we have experienced,” Bolin said. “When you make every necessary investment in a crop only to see it washed and blown away in a matter of hours or the hot sun bakes and withers it away day after day and week after week, it is a very disheartening experience.”

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