Lincoln, Pryor Introduce Emergency Agriculture Disaster Package
U.S. Senators Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor (both D-Ark.) today announced the introduction of emergency legislation to help Arkansas' farmers, ranchers, and small businesses cope with economic losses as a result of devastating weather conditions and high production input costs experienced over the past two years.
"Our agricultural producers in Arkansas have suffered severe economic losses due to drought and rising operating costs, and they have yet to receive any substantive relief from their government,"said Lincoln, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. "If Americans want to continue to see an affordable and abundant food supply produced safely at home, Congress must support this emergency legislation to strengthen our economy and provide the support our farm families need to remain competitive in the global marketplace."
"Our farmers are in real distress following severe drought and higher input costs. This disaster assistance is necessary to enable many of them a chance to keep their doors open," Pryor said. "I am committed to advancing this legislation swiftly so our producers get the relief they desperately need. If President Bush will support this bill, I'm confident we can get it passed."
The "Emergency Agricultural Disaster Assistance Act of 2006"covers losses sustained in the 2005 and 2006 production years. Lincoln and Pryor said the bill would provide a supplemental economic loss payment to program crop producers that equals 30 percent of their direct payment. The legislation also establishes a Livestock Compensation Program to help cover increased feed expenses for ranchers in disaster-designated counties. In addition, the emergency package provides $300 million in economic assistance grants for small businesses who suffered economic losses as a result of weather-related agricultural losses.
Lincoln and Pryor introduced a disaster assistance bill last year to provide Arkansas' agricultural producers relief from the harsh conditions encountered in the 2005 production year. The Senators were successful in adding the long-awaited assistance to the Fiscal Year 2006 emergency supplemental bill, yet it was stripped by House Republicans during the Senate-House negotiation process. A similar emergency package for the 2005 crop year is currently included in the Senate Agriculture Appropriations bill for FY 2007, which has yet to be considered on the Senate floor.