Producers desperately need federal funding

Producers desperately need federal funding Senator Tom Daschle continues to press for immediate passage of emergency agriculture funding, and said that Congress should increase the funding by at least $4 billion in order to meet the urgent and long-term needs of farmers and ranchers.

South Dakota farmer Phill Cyre joined Daschle May 6 at a Capitol Hill round table discussion to stress the importance of passing this funding, which is contained in an emergency supplemental bill that has been held up in a House-Senate Conference Committee since March.

"Two months ago, Phill was forced to sell the farm he had owned and operated for over 25 years," Daschle said. "If we do not act, 20 to 30 percent of South Dakota farmers could be forced to do the same. It has been 69 days since the president asked Congress to approve emergency funding for farmers and ranchers. There is no legitimate reason why it hasn't been done. It's time we stop playing politics with the future of our rural communities and get this bill finished now."

Daschle said the emergency supplement bill targets $110 million to guarantee USDA farm loans, and $43 million to help local Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices that have been stretched beyond their limits by the demands of the farm crisis. The funding for the loan guarantees will leverage $1.1 billion in farm loans from private lenders.

Daschle said he also supports a Democratic proposal to add up $4.3 billion in emergency relief for farmers to the bill. Under this proposal, $1.5 billion would be added to the $2.3 billion in disaster aid Congress approved last year.

Due to the exceptionally high number of producers who have qualified for relief, additional resources are needed to fully fund the disaster program at the level USDA announced earlier in the year. Daschle also is pushing for a supplemental AMTA payment similar to the payment made last November.

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