ALABAMA FARMERS APPLAUD HOUSE PASSAGE OF DISASTER BILL
MONTGOMERY, Ala., May 11 - Alabama farmers hard hit by drought, hurricanes and freeze damage during the past three crop years are praising the U. S. House of Representatives for approving a $3.5 billion disaster package last night and are calling on the Senate and president to do the same.
"The overwhelming vote on Thursday by the House of Representatives for agricultural disaster aid shows strong bipartisan support for disaster relief for our producers," said Alabama Farmers Federation National Affairs Director Keith Gray. "This much-needed disaster funding would allow producers who suffered losses in 2005, 2006, or who planted a crop before February 28, 2007, to become eligible for disaster assistance. I personally want to thank all seven members of the Alabama delegation who supported this disaster relief measure."
Representatives passed the bill, 302-120, indicating bipartisan support strong enough to override a presidential veto. The House passed the agricultural disaster package shortly after passing an Iraq spending bill that President George W. Bush promised to veto because it does not provide funding to support military operations in that country beyond the next few months. Congressmen said a separate vote was taken on the disaster aid to demonstrate to the president there is support in both parties for farmers.
"We now call on the Senate to move forward as soon as possible and support disaster relief for our farmers and ranchers," Gray said. "Alabama has suffered severe agriculture losses from hurricanes, a sustained drought and a catastrophic freeze that have not been addressed by existing crop insurance or safety net programs. We will continue to work with the American Farm Bureau Federation, and Alabama Sens. Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby to move the date forward in the bill so that all freeze-damaged crops would be covered."