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Congress braves a threatened veto on disaster assistance

DENVER (May 25, 2007) – Rocky Mountain Farmers Union (RMFU) commended Congress for standing up for the American farmers and ranchers and approving agricultural disaster assistance. Congress passed $3 billion in disaster assistance as part of the fiscal year Supplemental Appropriations bill last evening. President Bush had threatened last week to veto agriculture disaster assistance. RMFU had sent a strongly worded letter to the President asking that he reconsider his position.

“Disaster assistance has been a priority issue for RMFU members,” stated RMFU President Kent Peppler, a farmer from Mead, Colo. “Farmers and ranchers in the Rocky Mountain region have been devastated by drought, wild fires and historic blizzards over the last number of years. This assistance will be critical in dealing with financial needs in rural America.”

The legislation will assist producers who suffered losses of 35 percent or more of their crop from weather-related disasters during 2005, 2006 or 2007, as well as livestock producers in counties that experienced USDA-designated natural disasters during that time. Producers can apply for a disaster payment for only one of the three years. They will need to work with their local Farm Service Agency offices to prepare the appropriate information and to document losses in order to receive any assistance.

“Farmers and ranchers have not only faced tremendous economic losses over the past number of years as a result of weather-related disasters,” stated Charles Petty, RMFU board member and farmer from Clovis, N.M. “Producers have also faced increased costs for fuel, fertilizer and seed compounding the economic pressure. The assistance comes at a critical time for producers and we urge the timely distribution for the benefit of those who have suffered.”

Rocky Mountain Farmers Union is a general farm organization with 25,000 members in the states of Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming.