by Max Brantley
HOW EXTREME IS TOM COTTON, PART V:
Just got this news release from the Arkansas congressional delegation.
The Agriculture Department has signed off on declaring 61 Arkansas counties as drought disaster areas. This will allow farmers and rachers to apply for relief money.
Routine sort of news release. But ..... What's not routine is the list of congressmen signed onto the list announcing the federal disaster aid:
U.S. Sens. John Boozman and Mark Pryor and U.S. Reps. Rick Crawford, Tim Griffin and Steve Womack.
AWOL: U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton, the Dardanelle-area renter, who made headlines with his first vote in Congress against disaster aid in the form of a flood insurance fund for victims of Hurricane Sandy. Cotton defended that by saying the disaster money shouldn't be spent unless some federal spending was cut elsewhere. The Arkansas disaster money comes from a previously approved continuing resolution for agriculture funding. So there's no excess spending argument on this one. Perhaps he's just sensitive to appearances. I've asked.
UPDATE (SORRY, THIS CAME ABOUT 5:25 PM, BUT I'VE BEEN OUT OF TOWN):
"Like the other delegation members, Tom is pleased his constituents will benefit from the declaration, but was traveling and hadn't yet reviewed the release. They were ready to release it and I didn't want to delay it, so I told them to go ahead." -Doug Coutts, chief of staff, Rep Cotton
ARKANSAS DELEGATION NEWS RELEASE
January 10, 2013
Michael Teague, Pryor, 501-324-6336
Sara Lasure, Boozman, 202-224-4843
Justin Gibbs, Crawford, 202-225-4076
Jonathan Samford, Griffin, 202-225-2506
Claire Burghoff, Womack, 202-225-4301
Arkansas Delegation Announces Disaster Assistance for State
WASHINGTON D.C. - U.S. Senators Mark Pryor and John Boozman today joined Congressmen Rick Crawford (AR-1), Tim Griffin (AR-2), and Steve Womack (AR-3) to announce that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated 61 Arkansas counties as disaster areas, making farmers and ranchers eligible for financial assistance to help them recover from losses caused by last year’s drought.
“With our state still reeling from last year’s drought, it’s important that we give Arkansas farmers and ranchers the tools and resources they need to get back on their feet,” Pryor said. “This disaster declaration will help producers recover and ensure that our agricultural sector remains strong.”
“Agriculture is our state’s largest industry and it took quite a hit during last year’s record drought. This disaster declaration is the first step toward getting much needed emergency assistance for Arkansas’s farmers and ranchers. We need to continue our work to help family farmers and ranchers recover from the challenges brought on from the drought and to pass a five-year farm bill to provide them stability for the future,” Boozman said.
“Last year’s record drought affected every farm family in Arkansas’s First District. Today’s disaster declaration from the Department of Agriculture will give these families access to emergency loans so they can keep their operations afloat,” said Crawford. “While this assistance is welcome news, it only further underscores the need for a 5-year Farm Bill that includes options for farmers facing disaster.”
“In August, I toured a number of family farms in the Second Congressional District, where I saw firsthand how last year’s crippling drought impacted them, their livestock and crops, and our economy. Today’s declaration will help them get the assistance they need to recover,” said Griffin.
“Arkansas’s Third District was hit particularly hard by drought in 2012, and those conditions have continued into 2013,” Womack said. “This disaster declaration will help ensure farmers and ranchers have access to the assistance necessary to recover from the losses they have experienced.”
Under this designation, Arkansas producers will be eligible to apply for assistance from the Farm Service Agency (FSA) for up to 8 months. This assistance will include FSA Emergency Loans (EM), which provide funding to replace or restore property, pay production costs and essential living expenses, reorganize farming operations, or refinance certain debts. Producers should contact their local Farm Service Agency Offices for more information.
Arkansas counties included in the disaster declaration include: Arkansas, Baxter, Benton, Boone, Carroll, Clark, Clay, Cleburne, Conway, Craighead, Crawford, Crittenden, Dallas, Faulkner, Franklin, Fulton, Garland, Grant, Greene, Hempstead, Hot Spring, Howard, Independence, Izard, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Lafayette, Lawrence, Little River, Logan, Lonoke, Madison, Marion, Miller, Mississippi, Monroe, Montgomery, Nevada, Newton, Ouachita, Perry, Pike, Polk, Poinsett, Pope, Prairie, Pulaski, Randolph, Saline, Scott, Searcy, Sebastian, Sevier, Sharp, Stone, Van Buren, Washington, White, Woodruff, and Yell.