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Public Statements

Management of the Missouri River and the Crop Insurance Program

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. HULSHOF. Mr. Speaker, as my colleagues know, Federal actions that negatively impact private property inflame the passions of farmers. This is certainly the case for the farmers in my district who make their living along the Missouri River, particularly as it relates to the efforts of some to create an artificial spring rise on the Missouri River.

On one side, bureaucrats and fringe special interests--absent sound science or empirical data--want to periodically flood the lower Missouri River basin in the hopes of helping the endangered pallid sturgeon spawn. On the other side, concerned farmers, river stakeholders, Missouri's congressional delegation, Governor Matt Blunt--just to name a few--understand that increasing river flows above the normal river levels during a volatile time of year--one in which farmers are most vulnerable--will cause flooding of adjacent farmland, infrastructure and even entire communities. Those of us on this side of the debate know that only sound science should be used as a basis for our river policy, and actions meant to help wildlife--especially actions that lack scientific merit--should not take precedence over the needs of the people who live and work along the river.

Despite this, the Army Corps of Engineers was compelled to include two artificial spring rises in their 2006 operating plan for the Missouri River. While the broad coalition that opposes this misguided spring rise fully intends to continue fighting implementation of these unproven and scientifically questionable spring rises, I want to make the House aware of an issue that we will need to address, should the Corps move forward with spring rises in 2006.

For years now, those of us opposed to a spring rise made the commonsense assumption that the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Risk Management Agency would serve as a safety net for those adversely affected by the spring rise, providing crop insurance coverage to those harmed by government-induced flooding, such as a spring rise on the Missouri River.

Apparently, it is the opinion of some that this is not the case. Just this week, the Risk Management Agency administrator stated in a letter dated December 15, 2005, that the Risk Management Agency ``is prohibited by law from covering crop losses due to a government sanction release of water by the Corps because it does not qualify as a naturally occurring event.''

To me, and to those I represent who live along the river, this policy defies logic. Common sense and basic fairness dictate that crop insurance should cover flood damages caused by a spring rise. From the perspective of a farmer, it adds insult to injury for the Federal Government to cause a flood and then refuse to cover crop insurance damages associated with the Government's actions.

I'm not asking for a handout, nor are my constituents. What I am seeking is a flood insurance policy relating to a spring rise that is consistent with the Risk Management Agency's stated mission, to ``promote, support, and regulate sound risk management solutions to preserve and strengthen the economic stability of America's agricultural producers'' and to ``provide crop insurance to American producers.''

Over the coming weeks and months, I will be working with some of my colleagues, like my friends Representative Skelton and Senator Talent to find the best, most efficient solution to this obvious problem. In this effort, I look forward to working with the administration and the committees of jurisdiction in Congress to remedy this situation. Likewise, I fully intend to continue working with like-minded stakeholders and elected officials to stop the flawed spring rise that will cause unnecessary flooding and damage for those along the Missouri River.

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