National Farmers Union is calling on U.S. House and Senate leaders to support emergency disaster assistance to producers devastated by drought and other natural disasters last year.

"We are disappointed these needs were not addressed in the farm bill conference, especially since the Senate overwhelmingly supported the provision in their version of the farm bill," said NFU President Dave Frederickson. "Now, we urge Congress to use the defense appropriations supplemental as an opportunity to move disaster assistance forward."

Frederickson sent letters to Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, R-IL, and Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-SD, asking for their support of an emergency disaster provision by including it in the defense appropriations supplemental under discussion this week in the House.

The emergency disaster assistance provisions originally introduced by Senator Max Baucus, D-MT, includes $1.8 billion in crop production loss assistance and $500 million in livestock assistance for losses nationally.

Montana experienced millions of dollars in agricultural losses and a more than 40% reduction in wheat production due to drought. The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture designated the entire state of Montana a disaster area. Significant portions of many other states were also declared disaster areas due to drought, disease and insect infestations.

"Our producers have been desperately seeking support for emergency assistance as time passes, losses increase, and the financial and emotional suffering of rural families continues," Frederickson said. "Disaster assistance with an emergency designation is vital."

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