Cotton Council urges action on relief bill

The NCC joined the National Association of Wheat Growers, the National Corn Growers Association and the American Soybean Association in a letter to Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, chairman of the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, saying that the Senate’s efforts to respond to the severe economic crisis facing agriculture will be unsuccessful unless emergency agricultural legislation is enacted prior to the August recess.

The Senate is scheduled to begin its recess today.

With the House of Representatives already in recess, the only course available to the Senate to ensure that farmers receive $5.5 billion of funds earmarked for 2001 is to pass H.R. 2213 as passed by the House, the letter stated.

“U.S. agriculture cannot wait any longer, the Senate must act,” NCC Chairman Jim Echols said. “We hoped the Senate would pass its own version of the assistance in a timely manner, but now the only practical option for getting this much-needed aid to farmers is for the Senate to pass the House bill before the Senate recesses.”

The letter warned of the very real possibility of missing the budget-imposed September 30 deadline and forfeiting this crucial financial aid.

“With prices of many commodities even lower than 2000, with increased costs for fuel and other inputs, and with severe weather in some regions, U.S. farmers need this assistance package more than ever,” the letter stated. “It is imperative that Congress complete its work right away.”

In an interview on public television Thursday night, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle said passing an emergency assistance bill for farmers was still part of the Senate’s unfinished business before the August recess.

Daschle earlier had said the legislation might not be completed until the Senate’s return in September.

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