Push For Disaster Aid Begins Again

With the convening of a new session of the U.S. Congress this week, farm groups are renewing their push for disaster aid to offset crop and livestock losses suffered in 2001 and 2002.

In letters sent last week to the full House and Senate, the American Farm Bureau Federation and 31 other farm and lending organizations said adequate aid is needed immediately to reduce the "devastating economic impacts" that farmers, ranchers and rural communities are experiencing as a result of natural disasters.

Farm groups are set to begin lobbying lawmakers for disaster aid this week.

We see this issue as not going away," Tom Buis of the activist National Farmers Union told Reuters News Service on Monday, dismissing suggestions that drought aid was a failed campaign ploy.

"In the past, disasters of this magnitude have been addressed by Congress and the administration, and this one hasn't yet," Buis said.

Congress is expected to spend most of January trying to complete the 11 appropriations bills needed to fund the government during the current fiscal year. The last Congress failed to finish those bill on time.

The farm groups hope they can convince Congress to make emergency disaster assistance a necessary part of its funding package.

"We're coming in early (in the session) because we're a little unsure of the process ... on when the 2003 appropriations bills are going to move," Buis told Reuters.

Editors note: Richard Brock, Soybean Digest's Marketing Editor, is president of Brock Associates, a farm market advisory firm, and publisher of The Brock Report.

To see more market perspectives, visit Brock's Web site at www.brockreport.com.