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ACGA urges Congress to support disaster assistance

(July 25, 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 Congress to support pending emergency legislation for farmers and ranchers hard hit by natural disaster both in the 2001 and 2002 crop years.

In a letter to members of both Houses of Congress, ACGA joined a coalition of other farm and rural organizations urging support for emergency assistance for crop and livestock producers who have suffered losses due to natural disasters. Similar letters have been sent to the President and Secretary of Agriculture.

"The drought conditions in the western Corn Belt are more intense than I have seen in my 25 years of farming," said Dittrich. "If it doesn't rain soon Nebraska, western Iowa and South Dakota will have a severely reduced crop. Nationally there are also many other parts of the Corn Belt suffering from drought conditions. "

Dittrich added, "We sympathize with the livestock producers in the west who have seen their pastures dry up to nothing and are being forced to sell off their herds for slaughter. The sale barns are so full they're actually turning cattle away. Processors should not be caught off guard to this situation. Proactive approaches in the purchasing of commodities will be essential as the seriousness of this situation unfolds and grain stocks are reduced."

The ACGA President also asked Senators and rural House members, as well as the President and Secretary to tour disaster stricken areas in order to take inventory of the devastation during the upcoming congressional recess. That recess starts next week and extends thru early September. "We would be glad to arrange and coordinate any tour to help this nation's leadership understand the dire situation faced by so many of our farm families."

"I hope that Congress fully recognizes this looming 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."