Drought and Ranching in Arizona: A Case of Vulnerability
Domenici Press Release
June 24, 1996
DOMENICI: USDA INACTION ON DROUGHT IS UNACCEPTABLE
Senator Asks President to Break White House
Logjam on Drought Assistance
WASHINGTON -- Senator Pete Domenici today asked the President
to break a logjam in the White House to an initiative to provide
direct relief for victims of the continuing drought in the
Domenici told the President that he has learned that the U.S.
Department of Agriculture (USDA) has submitted a drought aid plan
to the White House Office of Management and Budget more than 10
days ago and has not received approval to move forward.
"As you most certainly witnessed during your recent trip to
New Mexico, the drought has had a devastating impact on the
agricultural production in Southwest, and I would appreciate your
assurance that any problems in clearing this proposal through the
White House will be resolved immediately," Domenici said in a
letter to the President.
"I fully expect that Secretary Glickman's proposal will
provide desperately needed relief to the livestock producers of New
Mexico and the Southwest," Domenici said.
Domenici was informed that the proposal had been submitted
when he made a call to Agriculture Secretary Glickman to inquire
why the USDA has failed to move on real efforts to directly assist
the drought-stricken livestock producers, particularly in terms of
releasing more than 45 million bushels of feed grain held in
emergency reserve. The call was made to accompany a letter
Domenici sent to Glickman.
In his letter to Glickman, Domenici reminded Glickman of a
number of problems facing producers due to the drought, saying that
producers in New Mexico and in the Southwest have been forced to
liquidate significant portions of their herds in order to prevent
long-term damage to the forage resources.
"The Department has failed to provide any practical relief to
those livestock producers who operate on federal land. This is of
particular concern in New Mexico where the announced extension of
the Emergency Livestock Feed Program is of benefit to producers in
only three of 33 counties," Domenici said.
"This has had a devastating effect on not only the producers
themselves, but on the rural economies of the area as well,"
Domenici asked Glickman to answer a series of questions
regarding the Department's failure to carry out acts that would
assist drought-stricken producers:
1. Does the Department have any plans to release feed grains currently held in emergency reserves? If so, what has been the reason for delay in this announcement? If not, under what circumstances would the Department consider the emergency great enough to provide relief under the authority of this program?
An additional concern involves regulatory requirements of the
Federal Crop Insurance Program. Dryland cotton producers have been
provided with some planting flexibility, but producers of other
crops continue to operate under an unreasonable regulatory system
that requires farmers to plant a crop when there is little or no
chance of it ever being harvested.
2. Are there any disaster relief programs for livestock producers whose sole source of forage production and feed is native pasture, or rangeland, other than the Emergency Livestock Feed Program, and temporary programs established through the release of feed grains from the emergency reserves? If so, how can producers in the Southwest qualify for such programs?
3. Has the Department taken any steps to ensure that disaster assistance program announcements are provided to field personnel in the most efficient manner possible?
4. Has the Department taken a position on legislation currently before the Senate related to the temporary extension of the Emergency Livestock Feed Program, or the extension of coverage to native pasture under the Noninsured Crop Assistance Program?
5. What is the current status of Governor Johnson's latest request for the designation of four additional counties in New Mexico (Taos, Santa Fe, Sandoval, and Rio Arriba) as primary disaster areas?
Domenici said that he has received reports from producers that
Farm Services Agency personnel are not receiving adequate
information on policy announcements.
"Frankly, I find it unacceptable for agency personnel to be
forced to rely on news releases as their primary source of
information related to policy adjustments. In emergency
situations, such as the drought in the Southwest, there must be
expedited procedures for disseminating official program information
to field personnel who are responsible for delivering assistance to
those who qualify," Domenici said.
Congress has passed a number of resolutions sponsored by
Domenici and others to help assist the producers, including those
that urge the Secretary to release feed grains currently held by
the USDA in emergency reserves.
Back to Drought and Ranching in Arizona: A Case of Vulnerability