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NFU seeks equity in disaster aid

WASHINGTON (Sept. 29, 2004) — Since weather-related disasters have plagued farmers and ranchers across the nation, National Farmers Union President Dave Frederickson said he is concerned that aid for some producers may be in jeopardy.

“National Farmers Union is extremely troubled by recent reports that the Bush administration, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Ted Stevens, and the House leadership are considering removing the bipartisan Senate provision in the homeland security funding bill that would provide emergency disaster aid for farmers and ranchers suffering from widespread weather-related disasters,” Frederickson said. “Their plan is to provide farm disaster aid only to farmers who have suffered losses as a result of a hurricane, while postponing consideration of assistance to farmers and ranchers in the Midwest and West with tremendous weather-related losses as a result of drought, frost or flooding.

“It is a question of fairness,” he said. “How can Congress and the administration say it is okay to provide disaster assistance to someone who lost their crop because of a hurricane, and not provide disaster assistance to someone who lost their crop as a result of drought, frost or flooding?

“Our organization feels strongly that the best response would be to provide relief to all farmers and ranchers, regardless of what type of weather-related disaster caused the loss and regardless of what part of the country they live in. Even though U.S. farmers and ranchers are the best in the world, they still cannot control the weather. It is a question of equity.”

“This is a serious situation for our farmers and ranchers in the Rocky Mountain Region,” said John Stencel, president, Rocky Mountain Farmers Union. “As part of a delegation of our members who recently went to Washington, D.C., I heard firsthand how important it is for disaster assistance to go forward for all affected farmers and ranchers. Disaster assistance was a major point of discussion in every congressional office our members visited. I encourage all producers and consumers to call their representatives in Washington to express their concern at the inequity of this new proposal and perhaps the loss of emergency disaster assistance.”

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