Cotton producers are looking at the worst prices in 15 years. Fruit growers are scaling back production or in some cases switching to different crops. Western irrigators are enduring water shut-offs due to drought. Times have been better in much of Rural America.
To ensure that farmers will be around to enjoy the times when they do get better, official Washington is scrambling to hammer out financial relief packages. It's not as though Congress is inexperienced at manufacturing such measures. Relief to agriculture has become a continuing activity for farm state lawmakers. Earlier this week, the most recent edition was rolled out
Here's what the supplemental farm assistance package approved this week by the House Agriculture Committee would do:
--Provide $4.6 Billion in direct payments to grain and cotton farmers.
--Give $423 Million in additional payments to growers of soybean and other oilseeds.
--And, provide more than $350 Million to tobacco and peanut farmers and to promote sales of fruits and vegetables.
The total $5.5-billion package was a billion dollars less than what committee chairman Larry Combest wanted. But other Republican members of the committee heeded White House threats of a veto of the spending plan if the lawmakers approved more than the $5.5-billion figure.
Congress has provided some $25 billion in special payments to farmers over the past three years to supplement federal subsidy programs. The annual bailouts began after sluggish exports and bumper crops sent prices plunging for a variety of commodities.