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Washington D.C.
Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison
News Release
Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Hutchison, Cornyn & Texas Delegation Urge Agriculture Secretary
to Expedite and Expand Drought Assistance

Lawmakers Press Agriculture Department on Limited Help for Affected Texas Counties


WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Tuesday, U.S. Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn and 23 members of the Texas congressional delegation signed a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary (USDA) Tom Vilsack asking him to expedite and expand assistance to the Texas counties that suffered loss due to the drought. The Texas delegation is concerned that out of the 167 Texas counties categorized as being in abnormal to exceptional drought conditions, the USDA only approved 2009 crop assistance for seven counties. Other neighboring drought stricken states received broad assistance.

The full text of the letter to Secretary Vilsack is below.

 

The Honorable Tom Vilsack

Secretary

U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Ave., S.W.
Washington, DC 20250

Dear Secretary Vilsack:

In 2009, Texas suffered from record triple-digit temperatures and experienced a lack of rainfall that devastated crops and rangeland throughout much of Texas.  The drought resulted in agricultural losses of $3.6 billion for Texas farmers and ranchers. 

Recently, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a list of counties throughout the country that are eligible for the 2009 crop assistance through your agency.  During the summer of 2009, 167 counties in Texas were categorized as being in abnormal to exceptional drought conditions; however, the USDA only identified seven counties in Texas as being eligible for disaster assistance. 

We question why the USDA excluded most of Texas, which suffered similar, if not worse, agricultural losses than counties in our neighboring states that did qualify for aid. To put things into perspective, Texas lost approximately 1.5 million acres of cotton, while Oklahoma lost 10 thousand acres of cotton, and Arkansas was unable to harvest 20 thousand acres of cotton in 2009.   It is not equitable for your agency to prevent our farmers from receiving assistance while providing assistance to all of Arkansas and Oklahoma, with the exception of five counties between the two states. 

We ask for a response from your agency to explain why Texas was largely excluded from the 2009 disaster assistance, and we request the USDA to work in an expeditious manner to include all counties in Texas that suffered agricultural losses, as the agency did for the states bordering Texas.  As our farmers and ranchers continue to struggle from the drought, we appreciate your immediate attention to this important issue.  We look forward to your prompt response and any updates on the progress your agency is making to assist our Texas farmers and ranchers. 

Sincerely,

 

KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON                       JOHN CORNYN

U.S.  Senator                                                  U.S. Senator

 

PETER OLSON                                             CIRO Rodriguez

U.S. Representative                                       U.S. Representative

 

MICHAEL MCCAUL                                   SHEILA JACKSON LEE

U.S. Representative                                       U.S. Representative

 

CHET EDWARDS                                        KEVIN BRADY

U.S. Representative                                       U.S. Representative

 

TED POE                                                       RON PAUL

U.S. Representative                                       U.S. Representative

 

JOHN CULBERSON                                    RALPH HALL

U.S. Representative                                       U.S. Representative

 

MICHAEL CONAWAY                               RUBÉN HINOJOSA

U.S. Representative                                       U.S. Representative   

 

MAC THORNBERRY                                  JOHN CARTER

U.S. Representative                                       U.S. Representative  

 

LLOYD DOGGETT                                      JOE BARTON

U.S. Representative                                        U.S. Representative 

 

HENRY CUELLAR                                       RANDY NEUGEBAUER

U.S. Representative                                        U.S. Representative

 

LOUIE GOHMERT                                       PETE SESSIONS

U.S. Representative                                        U.S. Representative 

 

LAMAR SMITH                                            KAY GRANGER

U.S. Representative                                        U.S. Representative 

 

JEB HENSARLING

U.S. Representative   






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