State farmers to receive drought aid
Published 3:03 am Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Special to the Standard
In recent letters to the Secretary of Agriculture and key members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) urged that special discretionary funds at the United States Department of Agriculture be released to aid farmers and ranchers suffering from a record breaking drought in Alabama.
The funds, referred to as Section 32 Program Funds, are part of a large congressional appropriation that the USDA receives each year. The Secretary of Agriculture has broad discretion to allocate the funds, which have been released for a wide variety of purposes in the past.
In a recent letter to the USDA, Sessions requested that the secretary release the Program Funds at his disposal to provide immediate assistance to cattlemen, timber growers and commodity farmers in Alabama.
In a separate letter sent to the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, Sessions requested that the committee provide $10 million in disaster aid to Alabama through the Emergency Conservation Program to rehabilitate drought-ravaged pastures. The request also asked for the release of $7 million through the Livestock Assistance Program to provide payments to eligible livestock producers.
Any assistance provided as a result of Sessions' requests would be in addition to financial assistance made available through the disaster declaration process or emergency supplemental appropriations bills.