The Senate introduced bipartisan legislation Wednesday to help producers recover from losses to natural disasters in the 2005 and 2006 production seasons.
The new ag disaster package combines legislation Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., previously introduced to support ranchers and farmers impacted by frost, flood and disease during the 2005 growing season with emergency legislation to aid producers suffering from the 2006 drought devastating the Great Plains.
The comprehensive ag disaster package now provides emergency funding to farmers and ranchers who have suffered weather-related crop production shortfalls, quality losses and damage to livestock and feed supplies. The bill also helps farmers overcome losses as a result of energy prices that spiked following last year's hurricanes.
Recognizing the devastating impact the disasters have had on the Main Streets of rural America, Senator Conrad drafted a $300 million provision in the bill to assist thousands of small, ag-dependent businesses fighting to keep their doors open.
"The economic pain of this kind of slow-motion disaster doesn't end at the farm gate. It echoes through the storefronts of every Main Street in rural North Dakota," Conrad says. "Grain dealers, implement shops - everyone who does business with farmers is going to hurt. That means the whole state will hurt, because agriculture is still the tractor that pulls North Dakota's economy."
Co-sponsors of Conrad's bipartisan ag disaster legislation include: Sens. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., Ben Nelson, D-Neb., Jim Talent, R-Mo., Tim Johnson, D-S.D., Ken Salazar, D-Colo., Max Baucus, D-Mont., Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Barack Obama, D-Ill., and Mark Dayton, D-Minn.