Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Berry and House Democrats Attempt to Force Vote on Disaster Assistance

I joined House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-MN), Congressman John Barrow (D-GA), Rural Working Group Co-Chair Congressman Bob Etheridge (D-NC), and Congressman Mike Ross (D-AR) in filing a discharge petition (H. Res. 998) that would force the House to consider agriculture disaster assistance legislation before we adjourn this week for the elections. 218 members must sign the petition in order to force a vote on the bill.

A coalition of more than 30 farm and allied organizations, including the National Farmers Union, American Farm Bureau Federation, Independent Community Bankers of America and others have recognized the critical need for disaster assistance and are urging Members of Congress to sign the discharge petition.

More than 71 percent of all U.S. counties have been declared primary or contiguous disaster areas by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) this year, and last year, 78 percent of counties were primary or contiguous disaster areas. Farmers have waited long enough for relief, and our rural communities are counting on Congress to provide this desperately needed assistance.

This country will be in a lot of trouble if our elected leaders continue to ignore the agriculture industry. Our government must heed this warning and recognize that farmers need immediate relief from the 2005 and 2006 crop years. Unless our government does something to help the agriculture industry shoulder skyrocketing production costs, America may have little choice but to rely on other countries for a safe and secure food supply.