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Senate approves some disaster assistance for farmers, but not enough, says National Farmers Union

(Thursday, Jan. 23, 2003 -- CropChoice news) -- The Senate Agriculture Committee yesterday passed, by a vote of 59 to 35, an amendment by Committee Chair Thad Cochran, R-Miss. that would provide assistance equal to 42 percent of direct farm bill payments to producers in disaster-designated counties, regardless of whether they have suffered losses.

“Although National Farmers Union is pleased that the Senate moved forward with some disaster assistance today, the adopted plan is simply not enough to cover the weather-related losses in rural America,” said NFU President Dave Frederickson. “Farmers and ranchers need more comprehensive and equitable assistance if they are ever going to bounce back from the last several years of natural disasters.”

He added that the amendment could end up sending added money to a farmer who had a record crop and not enough to those who suffered losses.

The Senate rejected, by a 39-to-56 vote, South Dakota Sen. Tom Daschle’s more comprehensive emergency disaster aid plan that would cover all commodities and all natural disasters for both 2001 and 2002. The Cochran plan provides assistance for only one of the last two years.