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ACGA seeks Bush push for emergency aid to farmers

(June 26, 2002 -- CropChoice news) -- The American Corn Growers Association wants President Bush to support emergency legislation that would send money to farmers hard hit by natural disasters during the 2001 and 2002 growing seasons.

"Even with the new farm bill, the safety net for corn farmers is still about twenty percent below our cost of production and no better for other segments of production agriculture," said Tilden, Neb. farmer Keith Dittrich, president of the 14,000-member Association. "USDA announced last week that farm income for this year will be 15 percent below last year’s. I can tell you that no one made any profit last year and when natural disaster hits, our farm families cannot survive without essential emergency assistance. Until we can have farm policy which provides a fair price for what we raise when times are good, we will be required to assist those in need when times are bad."

However, the Administration opposes the emergency legislation on the grounds that it has a negative impact on the federal budget and that any additional spending would have to be offset by reductions in other farm programs.

In a letter to Bush, Sen. Tom Daschle wrote: "Mr. President, we hope you agree with us that natural disasters that happen to impact farmers and ranchers are just as damaging to peoples lives as any other natural disaster. Rural residents deserve fair treatment. Therefore, we respectfully request that you support our efforts to pass legislation that designates such natural disaster assistance as emergency spending and spares devastating cuts in the farm safety net that your Administration has suggested."

"Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, Senators Max Baucus, Tim Johnson, Conrad Burns and others have provided the leadership and initiative to provide emergency assistance, but without leadership from President Bush on this issue, they will not be able to provide this much needed assistance," Dittrich said.