DROUGHT IN THE STATE OF DELAWARE -- (Senate - August 02, 2007)
Mr. BIDEN. Mr. President, I rise today in support of the farmers in my State of Delaware, and those in other parts of the Nation, who are looking out their windows and seeing the damage caused by a drought. This is the time of year when corn is at its best, at its sweetest, but in Delaware, specifically in Sussex and Kent Counties, where agriculture is king, my guys are in trouble. On some farms, corn is half the size it should be, brown and withered, stalks, with no ears of corn. Losses, I have been told, are 50 percent of the crop or even 100 percent of a farmers total crop. Soybeans are also in jeopardy. And we are facing a forecast with little or no rain.
As I have been telling my colleagues, for more than three decades, agriculture is an enormous and vital part of my State. Delaware is an agricultural State. Almost 50 percent of our total acreage is farmland. Sussex County, the southernmost county in my State, is the largest poultry producing county in the entire country. Delaware is first in production value per farm and first in cash receipts per acre. We are ranked No. 2 in lima bean production, and we have 200,000 acres of soybeans and 175,000 acres of corn.
Sadly, this is not the first time that my State has faced a severe drought. In 2002, our farmers faced similar circumstances and suffered major losses. When a severe drought strikes, the impact on the economy, the environment, and the agricultural sector can be devastating. USDA's assistance during these crucial periods help the livelihoods of our farmers in Delaware.
Farmers, always at the mercy of the weather, are constantly faced with decisions of how to best manage risk. With Delaware soil, irrigation is oftentimes an option, but it is an expensive one which can be daunting to a farmer trying to make a profit. Another tool which farmers look to is crop insurance. Throughout my tenure in the Senate, I have supported incentives to make such tools attractive and affordable to farmers.
Bur for now, our Governor has started the process that triggers Federal assistance by calling for the Delaware Farm Service Agency to survey the crops. Because it is essential that the State, or specific counties, be designated as crop disaster areas to make farmers eligible for Federal disaster assistance, I am hopeful that they complete the process soon. If disaster assistance is needed, I hope the Secretary of Agriculture will move swiftly to help.