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Senator Craig Rises in Support of Cochran Amendment

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. CRAIG. Madam President, I thank the chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee, Senator Cochran, for working with all of us to reshape the legislation to fit those and to compensate those and help those who truly have lost through disaster.

That is exactly what the Cochran amendment now does. In so shaping that, we are also able to fit in those livestock farmers and ranchers who lost grazing and need some more assistance for food supplementation and hay supplementation for their livestock. We already provided them in October with substantial assistance. This is in addition to that.

I am not a midwesterner. I can't talk about the extent of the drought down in the Midwest as my colleague from North Dakota just did. But I can tell you that the 44 counties of Idaho which are split by two time zones, three air sheds, and three different moisture patterns did rather well this year. With commodity prices up, they are doing better than they probably had anticipated they would at the beginning of this crop season a year ago. But 27 counties did experience extreme drought conditions. They do mostly irrigation there. The pastureland and the grazing lands there were badly damaged and livestock had to be brought in early. High-priced hay had to be purchased to feed the livestock in order to sustain or maintain the family operation. That drove up the cost of hay for the dairy farmer. While none of this goes to the dairy farmer, his costs of operation have gone up substantially.

What I think we have to recognize is what we do is a balance in the first instance. What we ought to be doing is dealing with those who truly experienced loss through natural disaster, as the Cochran amendment now does. That is what is important. That is what we ought to be about.

We have a farm bill that some of us voted for and some didn't. I can tell you it is probably not the farm bill I would have written. But we now have it. There are those in the Chamber who will claim it is their work product and that we are working to implement it and make it work. We ought not just be constantly adding to it and having it become the second largest income source for American agriculture. It doesn't work very well if we are the ones who they end up depending upon mostly. But when a natural disaster strikes—whether it be a drought or a hurricane or too much water and a flood—that is what we do best. And that is what we ought to be about.

That is exactly what the Senator from Mississippi and I and others are attempting to address in the Cochran amendment. Yes. Money will come to Idaho—not as much as to others. But I believe this is a balanced and appropriate way to deal with a bill that will get to the President's desk and that will be signed.

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