FEDERATION PLEA HEARD: SHELBY SEEKS AID FOR ALABAMA FARMERS
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Less than a week after the Alabama Farmers Federation and other state agricultural groups called on state and national officials to speed relief to Alabama's drought-stricken farmers, U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.,) has answered that plea.
Shelby, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced vital funding to provide relief to Alabama's drought-stricken agriculture industry.
Following today's action by the committee, the legislation will go to the Senate floor for consideration.
Shelby secured provisions within the fiscal year 2008 Agriculture Appropriations bill to provide assistance to the agriculture community currently suffering from drought and other natural disasters.
These provisions included $10 million for the Emergency Conservation Program to relieve drought-stricken areas across the nation and an extension of the Livestock Compensation Program from Feb. 28, 2007 to Dec. 31, 2007 included in the fiscal year 2007 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill.
Both provisions will begin relieving the effects the drought is having on our agriculture industry across the nation and ensure that those affected have equal access to federal disaster aid.
"In 2007, we have seen Mother Nature wreak havoc throughout the entire nation," said Shelby. "Consequently, the agriculture industry is in dire straits with long-term ramifications for the cattlemen, farmer and consumer. Alabama is suffering from the worst drought in over 100 years. It is clear that, even at this early stage in the season, the crop and livestock losses will be heavy throughout the nation. These provisions are important first steps to ensure that our agriculture industry has access to financial assistance now to help them begin recovering from this disaster."
On July 2, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Michael Johanns designated the entire State of Alabama as a primary disaster area due to the drought that began on January 1, 2007, and is continuing. As a result of the designation, farm operators in all Alabama counties have eight months from the date of the designation to apply for low-interest emergency loans from the Farm Service Agency for losses that occurred during the 2007 crop year due to drought.
The Alabama Farmers Federation held a press conference July 13 along with the Alabama Cattlemen's Association, the Alabama Poultry and Egg Association and Alabama Forestry Association to call for immediate disaster relief.
"We asked for help and they've delivered," said Keith Gray, director of the Federation's National Affairs Department. "Sen. Shelby's swift action, coupled with the assistance of Congressman Robert Aderholt, Congressman Bud Cramer and the entire Alabama delegation, is greatly appreciated in this time of great need. We can only hope the Senate will understand how hard we've been hit."
During today's committee mark-up, Shelby committed to offering an amendment during the full Senate's consideration of the fiscal year 2008 Agriculture Appropriations bill that would extend crop disaster assistance for the entire 2007 calendar year.