November 20, 2009
Dear Senator :
The members of the below listed organizations include farmers, processors and related agri-businesses. We write to express our strong support and the urgent need for legislation to provide funding for emergency financial assistance. We appreciate your efforts to deliver much-needed financial assistance to farmers and rural communities to assist them in recovering from devastating losses caused by hurricanes, excessive rain during harvest and other natural disasters across the country, including catastrophic weather-related losses in the mid-South and neighboring states.
Soybeans, rice, cotton, peanuts, sweet potatoes and other crops and segments of the agricultural economy currently are experiencing devastating weather-related losses. In some cases, the 2009 losses follow on the heels of similar losses in 2008. To make the situation even worse, the rains in the Mid-South came during harvest so farmers had invested the maximum in inputs to bring the crops to completion only to suffer yield and quality losses, in addition to increased harvest expenses, which has resulted in severe financial stress. Processors and related businesses that rely upon robust production will operate at reduced levels or not at all, placing stress on small businesses and rural communities.
Because there is urgent need for disaster assistance, we believe the provisions in the legislation recently introduced by Senators Cochran,
Although loss estimates are preliminary, they have already reached the hundreds of millions of dollars. Many producers need assistance within weeks to repay loans and secure new financing in time for spring planting, so prompt action on this measure is vitally important. Alternative means of providing assistance cannot be delivered before late 2010 or early 2011.
We will respectfully urge leaders in the Senate to work with you to identify an appropriate legislative vehicle that could be enacted before the end of the current session of Congress to provide timely emergency financial assistance to farmers and ranchers who have suffered weather- related losses in 2009. We also are keenly aware that there were significant losses resulting from 2008 hurricanes which caused serious crop losses and increased input costs that have not yet been compensated.
Thank you for working to bring timely financial assistance to producers, processors and rural communities so that they will be able to continue to produce affordable food and fiber for our nation and make a significant contribution to our economy.
We look forward to working with you and your excellent staff to successfully complete this important work.
American Soybean Association
National Cotton Council
Southern Peanut Farmers Federation
US Rice Producers Association