News Releases

Senate Passes Disaster Aid for Farmers & Ranchers

Sep 10 2002

Thousands in Eastern & Central Washington could benefit

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – On a bipartisan vote of 79-16, the U.S. Senate today approved $5 billion in disaster aid for U.S. farmers and ranchers.

Senator Patty Murray supported the Daschle-Baucus amendment, which ensures that farmers and ranchers who suffered losses from drought and storms in 2001 and 2002 would receive some compensation for their losses.

If the assistance package becomes law, it would help agriculture communities in Washington state that were hurt by last year's drought and the June, 2001 storms that swept through south central Washington.

In addition, it would aid victims of a storm that hit Okanogan County last month. Washington State University estimates the Okanogan storm affected more than 4800 acres and caused $15 million in losses just on the apples and pears that fell to the ground. This estimate does not include damaged fruit that remained on trees or damage to the trees themselves.

The amendment was added to the Senate Interior Appropriations bill. The full House of Representatives has not yet taken up the Interior Appropriations bill, but Murray and thousands of farmers and ranchers in Eastern and Central Washington hope the House will follow suit.

Senator Murray issued the following statement:

"For the third time, I have voted to provide disaster assistance to U.S. farmers and ranchers. Drought and storms have caused tremendous economic damage in Washington state. We need only to look at the massive damage caused by recent storms in Okanogan County to understand the need for Congress and the Bush Administration to act.

While the Senate has passed disaster aid three times, the leadership of the House and the Administration continue to oppose it. Our farmers and ranchers do not need more rhetoric; they need financial assistance. If the House of Representatives and the Administration do not support this bipartisan aid package, then they must be prepared to explain to my constituents why the federal government would turn its back on its citizens during a disaster."