With disaster relief assistance mired in Washington politics, U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts said Monday it was not likely Kansas farmers would receive compensation anytime soon for the drought-withered crops they recently harvested.
"I'm really worried, folks," he told about 200 people gathered at the Douglas County 4-H Fairgrounds for the annual meeting of Douglas County Farm Bureau.
"I'm not optimistic," he said. "We've got the darndest collection of circumstances."
Roberts said those circumstances included a $6 billion relief bill that never had a chance of passing the House of Representatives, a president who has said all disaster relief must come out of the already existing $180 billion Farm Bill, and a House agriculture committee more worried about rice and cotton in Texas than corn and soybeans in Kansas.
"I don't think I can ever remember a time when I couldn't tell whose coat to tug on," Roberts said.
The government's reluctance to spend money comes in a year when almost everyone in the state was affected by lack of rain, said Ron Rice, president of Douglas County Farm Bureau.
Corn yields in Douglas County were less than half what they should have been, and soybean harvests were even worse, Rice said.
Although Roberts spoke mostly of agricultural concerns, he did take a few moments to discuss Bush's recent authorization by Congress to use force in Iraq.
Despite qualms that everyone has about a possible conflict with Iraq, Roberts said it was important to send a strong message to Saddam Hussein.
"We're not used to this in America," he said, but "we live in a different world."