With $4 corn and high-priced commodities all the rage for 2007, its easily forgotten tha some in Congress are striving for ag disaster legislation from 2005 and 2006. Northeast North Dakota and northwest Minnesota farmers were hard-hit by untimely moisture in 2005 and everyone knows that south-central to southwest North Dakota and north-central South Dakota were parched in 2006.
U.S. Rep. Earl Pomeroy says the $4 billion agricultural disaster figure coming out of the House this week is big news for him and others, including Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., and Rep. Stephanie Herseth, D-S.D. The reason: just because it came out of the House and not the Senate. Usually its the Senate that puts the number in and we try to hold it, Pomeroy said. Its unclear whether President George W. Bush will accept the disaster aid package in a time of cost-cutting and cost-savings in a time of war spending.
In the bigger farm bill discussions, Peterson has been pushing (fighting?) for a permanent disaster program in 2007 farm bill. That wasn’t on the table when I took this photo. I remember it was the first conference committee on the last farm bill. Note the players in the room: Among those at left are Pomeroy (I believe Pomeroy was sitting in for Charlie Rangel, the New Yorker, also on Ways and Means.), Sens. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., and Tom Harkin, D-Iowa. From far right are Peterson and former Reps. Charles Stenholm and Larry Combest — a Democrat and a Republican who won’t be in the picture in 2007.