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Durbin, Others Call on President to Include Relief for Farmers in Emergency Relief Request

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Location: Washington, DC

DURBIN, OTHERS CALL ON PRESIDENT TO INCLUDE RELIEF FOR FARMERS IN EMERGENCY RELIEF REQUEST

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) led a bipartisan group of Senators in a letter to President Bush urging him to include funding for agricultural losses resulting from Hurricane Katrina and other natural disasters in a future emergency supplemental appropriations request. Durbin was joined by Senators Barack Obama (D-IL), Kit Bond (R-MO), Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Jim Talent (R-MO), Ken Salazar (D-CO), Mel Martinez (R-FL), Kent Conrad (D-ND), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Patty Murray (D-WA), Mark Dayton (D-MN), and Max Baucus (D-MT).

"In addition to the loss of crops and livestock in the Gulf, damage to the Port of New Orleans will probably bring about increases in transportation and fuel costs for producers nationwide," wrote the senators. "The drought in the Midwest, flooding in various parts of the country, infestations and livestock diseases have taken a toll. Farmers and ranchers are looking to you to help them in this time of need."

Durbin and the other Senators noted that last year, following a number of hurricanes in Florida, the President requested $2 billion in emergency funding. After the President's request, Congress worked with the Administration to provide agricultural disaster relief for producers who sustained losses due to the hurricanes and other smaller-scale disasters around the country.

"We ask that you continue to recognize the effects of natural disasters on agriculture by providing relief for producers in your emergency funding request," wrote Durbin and the senators.

Full text of the letter appears below.

September 9, 2005

The Honorable George W. Bush
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We are writing to respectfully request that you address the damages sustained by agricultural producers as a result of Hurricane Katrina and other natural disasters in the emergency relief funding you will be requesting from Congress. The devastation we have all witnessed in recent days will have a profound effect on the lives of millions of Americans for years to come. It is important that we provide the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as well as local authorities with the funding they need to feed and house displaced individuals, prevent the outbreak of disease, and ease the suffering of those caught in Hurricane Katrina's path. We ask that when you propose the ambitious relief package we expect, you also include financial assistance for agricultural producers for the extensive losses wrought by Hurricane Katrina and other natural disasters this year.

Last year, following a series of hurricanes that battered the State of Florida, you responded by proposing $2 billion in emergency funding. This funding was essential for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to continue its work in Florida. You also made several additional requests for disaster relief funds. These supplemental spending bills helped to provide some relief for agricultural producers who had suffered losses due to the hurricanes and other smaller-scale disasters across the nation. We ask that you continue to recognize the effects of natural disasters on agriculture by providing relief for producers in your emergency funding request.

We are concerned about a number of natural disasters that threaten to make this a particularly bad year for our agricultural producers. The extent of the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina in Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana is difficult to estimate, but significant losses appear to be likely. In addition to the loss of crops and livestock in the Gulf, damage to the Port of New Orleans will probably bring about increases in transportation and fuel costs for producers nationwide. The drought in the Midwest, flooding in various parts of the country, and infestations and livestock diseases have taken a toll. Farmers and ranchers are looking to you to help them in this time of need.

Again, we ask you to consider the agricultural losses incurred due to Hurricane Katrina and other natural disasters this year when you make your request for emergency relief. Please know that we stand fully in support of your efforts to relieve the human suffering and losses we have seen.

Sincerely,
Dick Durbin (D-IL)
Christopher Bond (R-MO)
Barack Obama (D-IL)
Mel Martinez (R-FL)
Ken Salazar (D-CO)
Kent Conrad (D-ND)
Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
Patty Murray (D-WA)
Mark Dayton (D-MN)
Jim Talent (R-MO)
Max Baucus (D-MT)
Byron Dorgan (D-ND)

http://durbin.senate.gov/record.cfm?id=245536&&


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