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Corn Growers call on Senate to support disaster assistance

(Monday, Sept. 9, 2002 -- CropChoice news) -- Keith Dittrich, president of the American Corn Growers Association (ACGA) and a corn farmer from Tilden Neb., today called upon the United States Senate to support pending emergency legislation for farmers and ranchers hard hit by natural disaster both in the 2001 and 2002 crop years.

"Early this week, there will be a very important vote in the Senate which concerns many farm families across the nation," said Dittrich. "ACGA urges - actually, we demand - an affirmative vote on cloture, a procedural vote to end a filibuster, on an amendment to the interior appropriations bill (S. 2708) currently before the Senate. When sixty Senators vote 'Yea' on this measure, we can then take an important step forward in providing essential relief to drought stricken farm families."

The bipartisan drought disaster amendment offered last week by Senate Majority Leader Daschle, D-S.D., and Senators Johnson, D-S.D., Burns, R-Mont., Baucus, D-Mont. and others is nearly identical to legislation that has passed the Senate twice, first last November in economic stimulus legislation and, second, earlier this year in the Farm Bill, but was opposed on both occasions by the Administration and blocked by the House Republican leadership. The prospects for adoption of this proposal remain uncertain because President Bush continues to insist that the drought does not warrant emergency assistance.

"I hope that Congress and the President fully recognize the scope of this disaster for agriculture," said Dittrich. "Recalling past historic droughts, an old timer stated that the dirty thirties wouldn't have been so bad if it hadn't been for the twenties, which was a long period of economic hardship for family farmers. Similarly, in these times, farmers have suffered through some of the worst economic conditions due to low market prices. This drought couldn't have come at a worse time."

Last month, Dittrich delivered testimony before a Senate panel on the disaster. That testimony may be found at http://www.acga.org/news/2002/082002_2.htm

The American Corn Growers Association represents 14,000 members in 35 states. See http://www.acga.org .