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Ag disaster assistance three votes shy in Senate

DENVER– Rocky Mountain Farmers Union (RMFU) is very disappointed in Sen. Wayne Allard’s, R-Colo., decision to vote against agricultural disaster assistance. Despite receiving 57 votes in favor of the measure offered by Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., it failed due to a procedural point that required 60 affirmative votes.

“RMFU is disappointed that Sen. Allard did not represent the best interest of Colorado farmers and ranchers in his vote on this very important issue,” said RMFU President Kent Peppler, Mead, Colo. “On the other hand, we commend the leadership of Sen. Ken Salazar who was a member of a bipartisan group of senators that sponsored the proposed Conrad amendment.”

Peppler noted that RMFU is very pleased that five of the six senators from the states represented by RMFU voted in support of the amendment, including Sens. Craig Thomas, R-Wyo.; Michael Enzi, R-Wyo.; Pete Domenici, R-N.M.; Ken Salazar, D-Colo.; and, Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M. The disaster assistance measure offered by Conrad would have provided over $4.5 billion in agricultural disaster assistance for disasters of all types in 2005 and 2006. Congress previously passed disaster assistance for victims of Hurricane Katrina and other southern hurricanes but refused to pass measures to help producers suffering other types of disaster, such as drought and hail, which have adversely affected Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico producers for 2006, 2005 and before.

“The proposed assistance is critical for many farmers and ranchers to maintain viable operations as they look to the 2007 growing season,” Peppler said. “We hope that the next Congress will be more producer-friendly.”

RMFU has joined National Farmers Union in its pledge to bring up the topic of agricultural disaster assistance when the new Congress convenes in January.