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Mrs. EMERSON. Mr. Speaker, the drought which is devastating U.S. producers of agriculture throughout the Nation poses a serious, serious threat to every American family who plans on visiting the grocery store this year. American farmers and ranchers are on the ropes right now, and this legislation is desperately needed.
I can't tell you how important the leadership and cooperation of Chairman Lucas and Ranking Member Peterson has been on this issue because, statistically speaking, this is the worst drought since the 1950s. The forage situation for livestock is the worst since 1933.
In southern Missouri, the drought is breaking the life's work of dairy farmers like Stacey McCallister, who wrote this to me:
I've been talking to some farmers, and the feed prices are going to put us out of business. Milk isn't coming up at all on price and feed costs are doubling in cases. The sorriest hay that you could feed a heifer is at $200 a ton; I used to buy it at $30 a ton. I feel like my heart is in my stomach right now.
This picture of his farm tells the heartbreaking story. According to Stacey, even if you want to sell off part of your herd, you're out of luck. There's no more room for cows at the sale barn where they hold livestock auctions. There is about one penny of profit margin on the milk he's selling today. Our response to this disaster must begin with this effort to reinstate the emergency programs which were allowed to expire last October. We've paid for the reauthorization of these four programs in this legislation, and there's no reason not to renew them.
These programs are a safety net for our livestock producers in free fall. They need this assistance, and we need to give it to them or else risk losing the heart and soul of the agricultural backbone of this Nation, the families who literally put food on our tables.
I urge support for this legislation at a crucial hour of need for America's livestock producers.
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