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Farm groups call on Congress to pass emergency disaster aid

(Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2003 – CropChoice news) – Nearly 40 agriculture organizations today called for Congress pass emergency aid to help farmers and ranchers cope with what may be the most serious natural disasters since the Dust Bowl.

"As Congress considers an economic stimulus package, rural America’s economic situation cannot be overlooked," said National Farmers Union President Dave Frederickson at a morning press conference in Washington. "Many rural communities are staggering as farmers and ranchers struggle to recover from deadly doses of drought, flooding, freezing temperatures, insects and disease.

"Congress should make sure that any economic stimulus proposal is not only tilted toward Wall Street, but also rural Main Streets.

"The 2002 farm bill did not include a structure to respond to natural disasters," Frederickson explained. "Therefore, emergency funding -- like what is used to respond to hurricanes, floods and tornadoes -- should be used to assist producers hit by natural disasters. Taking aid from existing farm programs would be like taking money out of one pocket, putting in the other, and declaring yourself better off."

In 2002, more than 80 percent of all U.S. counties were declared agricultural disasters; 48.6 percent of all counties were declared in 2001.