Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Agriculture Disaster Assistance - Outlook Not Good

Conference negotiations are coming to a close on the emergency supplemental bill for military operations and the Gulf Coast recovery, and it does not look good for Arkansas farmers. Republican leaders appear to be doing just what President Bush asked them to do in his official Statement of Administrative Policy when he threatened to veto a bill containing nationwide agriculture assistance. Instead of retaining the $4 billion of agriculture assistance from the Senate bill, I am hearing reports that the bill will only provide $400-$500 million of agriculture assistance to those farmers in impacted Gulf Coast states. Unless something unexpected happens before the bill is brought to the floor later this week, it appears as if Arkansas farmers will not get the assistance they need for the 2005 crop year.

I have done everything I know to do to get this assistance passed. I have introduced legislation, offered amendments, written the Administration, and worked with colleagues on both sides of the isle. But sadly, the President and Republican leaders in Congress were determined to kill the measure. This is yet another reason why we need to strengthen our efforts to elect leaders who recognize the importance of our agriculture communities.