2009-08-13 / Front Page

McCaul Requests Disaster Relief for Lee County Ranchers

Congressman Michael McCaul, member of the House of Representatives for District 10, which includes Lee County, sent a letter last week to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsac, in an effort to assist drought-stricken counties in Central Texas.

He wrote, "This drought is at a critical point of becoming a major disaster to the area. Time is running out. The farmers and ranchers in my district indicate they will have to take drastic actions if the Federal government does not live up to its obligations, giving them access to FSA emergency loans and the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments Program which was approved as part of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008."

Mike Organ, President of the Lee/ Bastrop County Farm Bureau said, "Farmers and ranchers are not only having to purchase hay at anywhere from $65 to $125 a bale, depending on the quality of the hay and transportation, but due to the spotty rain in Lee County, many of the tanks are drying up."

Organ went on to say, "If you're a rancher on the coast and there's a disaster, like a hurricane, you get help immediately from FEMA. But if you're a farmer or a rancher outside that area, you have to pay to apply to get relief before a disaster has been declared. Then you have to wait for the funding from the Department of Agriculture. The 2008 Farm Bill contained almost $300 billion for relief and none of it has been dispensed yet."

McCaul concluded in his letter, "Time is of the essence for the USDA to accurately determine agriculture production losses so producers can begin receiving immediate relief from the federal government for drought assistance."

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