Iowa Public Television


Farm Groups Ask Congress for Disaster Assistance

posted on January 10, 2003

Hello, I'm Mark Pearson.

Public officials all across the land are ginning up proposals to jump start the nation's faltering economy. The White House wants to remove the tax on dividends. The democrats argue that approach excludes many who don't own stock. Most investors these days would just be happy owning a stock that pays a dividend.

Still casting a pall over the marketplace are foreign matters. UN officials searching for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq say they can't find a "smoking gun." The announcement may delay invasion plans. Meanwhile the eccentric government of North Korea has announced it is leaving the nuclear nonproliferation treaty, but says it is willing to talk.

Foreign tensions aside Americans are concerned about a 6 percent unemployment rate. In Rural America concerns are mounting over the rising potential of a drought. Farm state lawmakers are already in motion, attempting to secure funds to alleviate the cost of last year's drought and to get ahead of the curve of the pending disaster.


Farm Groups Ask Congress for Disaster Assistance

While the Food Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002, better known as the Farm Bill, provides increased economic resources, for a wide range of agricultural, programs administered by the USDA, it does not include assistance for natural disasters.

Now, after back-to-back years of drought in much of the country, 38 farm groups including the American Farm Bureau Federation are calling on Congress to approve emergency disaster assistance for America's farmers and ranchers.

A look at the national drought monitor supports their pleas. About half of the country endured dry conditions last year, and the drought has intensified in parts of the West.

Colorado harvested its smallest winter wheat crop in decades with an average yield of just 22-bushels per acre. As rangeland deteriorated, at least 200-thousand western breeding cows were sold off. Experts say it could take years to rebuild the herds.

And in Kansas, where the drought cost cattleman more than 300-million dollars last year, more than 10,000 commercial farms have been affected by the arid conditions. All told, last year's drought cost Kansas farmers more than one-billion dollars in crop losses.


Tags: agriculture Colorado Congress disaster relief drought Kansas news rural USDA weather