Committee includes ag program funds in military spending bill

US - The House Appropriations Committee today included emergency agricultural disaster assistance and a one-month extension of the Milk Income Loss Compensation program in its version of a $124 billion supplemental spending bill.
calendar icon 16 March 2007
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Most of the appropriations in the bill fund the military action in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The bill includes $3.7 billion for emergency agricultural disaster assistance.

Over the past 3 years, tens of thousands of farmers and ranchers across the country have suffered from weather-related disaster losses. Farmers and ranchers around the country have suffered weather-related disasters such as the 2006 summer heatwave that killed thousands of cattle in California and drought in the Midwest and the recent freeze that devastated fruit crops in California and Florida.

Currently, there is no permanent disaster funding in the farm bill. During recent farm bill hearing sessions across the Northwest and in California, a consistent theme has been that permanent emergency disaster funding needs to be part of the 2007 Farm Bill.

"America's food producers are the best in the world bar none, but they cannot control the weather or damages caused by Mother Nature," said National Farmers Union president Tom Buis. "This disaster assistance is a lifeline for those barely hanging on."

Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Wash., said the bill could help farmers in his state who are victims of flooding, windstorms and hail damage.

"Washington state farmers are one step closer to getting the disaster relief they need," Larsen said.

The MILC program, which financially compensates dairy producers when domestic milk prices fall below a specified level, is geared to help smaller-scale dairy farms stay in business during times of low prices.

Established in 2002, MILC was set to expire Sept. 30, 2005, but was extended for another year.

Many farm groups, among them the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Farmers Union, sent a letter to Congress last week urging another extension of MILC. The goal of the extension is to give the program a better chance of being included in the 2007 Farm Bill.

Source: Capital Press
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