Senator Murray Refutes Agriculture Secretary’s Claims about Farm Disaster Assistance

May 01 2006

In Bipartisan Letter to Agriculture Secretary Johanns, Murray Calls for Agriculture Disaster Assistance

(Washington D.C)- U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) today joined with eighteen Senate colleagues in challenging recent comments made by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Michael Johanns about disaster assistance for farmers and ranchers. In comments reported on April 21st, Secretary Johanns suggested that farmers rely too heavily on government assistance programs and believe they will be bailed out by federal disaster money. Senator Murray wholeheartedly disagrees with the Secretary's assessment and made it clear there is a need to provide assistance to farmers.

"I take offense to any suggestion that disaster relief is being used as a crutch rather then a measure of last resort for our nation's farmers," said Senator Murray. "I am happy to join with those in my party and those across the aisle in standing up for farmers hurt by recent disasters."

In their letter to Secretary Johanns, Senator Murray and other Senators wrote: "We know of no families in this country who wish to have their crops destroyed or their production costs dramatically increased because they believe as you suggest, the federal government will make them more then whole through assistance programs."

Senator Murray has been a strong advocate for disaster assistance, which is vital to keeping farms operating after disasters. In addition to disaster relief, this legislation also provides relief to Washington farmers who have born the brunt of increased fuel and fertilizer costs and earmarks $100 million for fruit, vegetable and livestock producers through programs such as marketing and research assistance.

Senator Murray sees Secretary Johann's comments as an attack on farmers in Washington state. Many disaster victims are family farmers that have a legitimate need for disaster funding from a variety of unforeseen occurrences that have affected their production levels.

Senator Murray has worked hard for the $3.9 billion in agricultural disaster legislation that was unanimously added to the Senate supplemental appropriations bill which is currently making its way through Congress.

Read the Letter to Secretary Johanns