WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke at a press conference this afternoon with Rep. Bob Etheridge (NC-02), Rep. Artur Davis (AL-07), Rep. John Barrow (GA-12), Rep. Tim Mahoney (FL-16), and Rep. Heath Shuler (NC-11) to discuss the agriculture disaster assistance provisions included in the FY 2008 Consolidated Appropriations bill passed by the House last night. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Congress is on course to pass a Fiscal Year 2008 Consolidated Appropriations bill that rejects the President’s misguided budget cuts and takes steps to reinvest in the priorities of our nation’s citizens – including those in rural America.
“Thanks to the efforts of Reps. Etheridge, Davis, Barrow, Mahoney, and Shuler, the legislation also continues our efforts to bolster a farm community that has seen significant losses through no fault of its own.
“Over the past three years, farmers in most every region of the country have been faced with natural disasters – drought, flooding, freezing – in many cases more than one in the same year.
“After two years of having their pleas ignored, earlier this year the new Democratic Congress passed a disaster assistance package that helped address the losses felt by eligible farmers and ensure the strength of our rural communities. That package covered 2005 and 2006, as well as the first two months of this year.
“Unfortunately for many farmers, the worst was yet to come – exceptional drought conditions continue to plague many areas of the country.
“By the end of the summer, nearly 92% of my state was experiencing drought conditions. Farmers in my own district were particularly hard hit. Maryland’s yields for corn and soy beans were down 38% and 28% respectively from their three year averages.
“I am pleased to report that the legislation moving through Congress this week and expected to be enacted into law extends the disaster assistance provisions included in the earlier package through the end of 2007.
“It is a critical victory for our rural communities and family farmers who have found themselves at the mercy of Mother Nature and demonstrates the continued commitment of this Democratic Congress for those who toil so hard to feed us all.”