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Corn Growers call on House for disaster emergency package

(Friday, Sept. 20, 2002 -- CropChoice news) -- Keith Dittrich, president of the American Corn Growers Association (ACGA) and a corn farmer from Tilden, Neb., today called on the United States House of Representatives to pass emergency legislation for farmers and ranchers hard hit by natural disaster in the 2001 and 2002 crop years.

"Farmers in many parts of the nation are experiencing financial hardship due to weather related disasters, especially drought and a farm economy which is the third worst in 68 years," said Dittrich. "We must convince the House of Representatives and President Bush to support this extremely important measure."

According to a USDA report released last month, net farm income is forecasted to drop in calendar year 2002 by 23 percent from the 2001 level. The forecast for 2002 net farm income is $35.2 billion, the lowest level since 1986.

Citing an economic analysis by Dr. Daryll E. Ray, Institute of Agriculture, University of Tennessee, Dittrich said that, in constant dollars, 2002 would be the third worst year for the farm economy in 68 years. "Only twice since 1934 has net farm income be this bad, and that is just the forecast. I predict the situation could be much worse than the August 20 USDA report," stated Dittrich, especially for farmers and ranchers facing the second year in a row of natural disasters.

This week, Representatives Cubin, R-Wyo., and Pomeroy, D-N.D., offered legislation, which mirrors a bipartisan drought disaster amendment passed last week by the Senate by a vote of 79 to 16. The prospects for adoption of this proposal remain uncertain because President Bush continues to insist that the drought does not warrant emergency assistance.

"We urge passage of the Cubin-Pomeroy bill so that assistance can be enacted by the President before Congress adjourns for their election recess. Rural America doesn't have the time nor the luxury for a recess until this issue is resolved," concluded Dittrich.

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 .