September 13, 2006
Etheridge Urges Speaker to Schedule Vote on Agriculture Disaster Relief
WASHINGTON - U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge (D-Lillington) has sent a letter to House Speaker Dennis Hastert, and Majority Leader John Boehner asking them to schedule a vote on emergency agriculture disaster assistance for 2005 and 2006 before the House leaves for October recess.
"America has experienced catastrophic floods and droughts in the last two years, causing severe losses for our farm families," said Etheridge. "These disasters send a ripple effect throughout our rural communities and their economies, from banks, to grocery stores, to equipment suppliers. We must provide our farm families with emergency disaster assistance or many of our rural economies could face devastating effects."
Floods, droughts and other natural disasters have negatively impacted many of the nation's farmers in 2005 and 2006. In North Carolina, the federal government is assessing the damage from Tropical Storm Ernesto to determine if farmers would be eligible for disaster assistance. North Carolina's farmers have also struggled as the cost of feed has risen due to drought and flooding in other regions of the country.
House Democrats have tried several times over the last year using various legislative methods to pass emergency disaster assistance, but the efforts have failed on party-line votes. The Senate has included assistance in its agriculture appropriations bill, however it is unlikely that a conference report will be completed by October recess.
Etheridge is a member of the House Agriculture Committee and is the co-chair of the Democratic Rural Working Group, which develops Congressional rural priorities. A coalition of more than 30 farm and allied organizations, including the National Farmers Union, the American Farm Bureau Federation, Independent Community Bankers of America, and the Farm Credit Council, are urging Congress to pass disaster assistance.