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Archive for Friday, February 14, 2003

State to get $200 million in drought aid

Assistance package to benefit livestock, crop producers

February 14, 2003

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— Kansas grain farmers and livestock producers will receive approximately $200 million under a drought aid deal reached in Congress.

"I'm going to sleep a little better. At least our efforts finally are getting recognized," Alan Peter, Greeley County farmer, said Thursday.

Peter was among a contingent of Kansas producers and other state leaders who last month went to Washington, D.C., to urge lawmakers to pass the legislation.

Congressional negotiators reached a tentative deal late Wednesday on $3.1 billion in aid for ranchers and farmers. It also will offer more help for growers than was sought in an earlier Senate version.

Peter noted Kansas producers have been affected by the drought in the past three years.

"It's too bad it took this long to get something done," Peter said.

Greeley County was among the areas hit the hardest by the drought.

"Any help we can get will make a little bit of difference. Hopefully it gives us time so we can get through it," he said.

Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., said the assistance would go to producers that suffered a loss of 35 percent or more in the 2001 and 2002 crop years.

"Finally, the Congress has provided $3.1 billion in disaster assistance that producers and their lenders can take to the bank," Roberts said in a news release. "Kansas producers will now have the tools to pull out of a devastating couple of years."

Brett Myers, executive vice president of the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers, said the bill provided help for up to $90 per acre for corn and cotton, up to $60 per acre for soybeans, and up to $40 per acre for wheat -- depending on drought losses.

"It is going to be a shot in the arm. It is not going to cover all losses we had in the last two years ... but it is as good as we can expect for the moment," Myers said.

The legislation provides another $350 million for livestock programs.

Also included in the legislation is a provision that waives the 25 percent reduction in Conservation Reserve Program rental rates for those producers that used their own CRP land for emergency haying and grazing.

"It looks like it is going to be a package that will get some money into our growers' hands fairly quickly, and that is one of the things we are focusing on," said Sue Schulte, a spokeswoman for the Kansas Corn Growers Assn. and the Kansas Grain Sorghum Producers Assn.

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