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ICBA Congratulates Senate on Ag Disaster Aid

Washington, D.C. (Sept. 15, 2004) - The Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) praised the United States Senate for adopting a $2.9 billion emergency agricultural disaster aid package as part of the FY 2005 Homeland Security Appropriations Act. The bipartisan measure was adopted on a voice vote Tuesday evening.

"There have been many areas of the country that have suffered severe losses impacting the crop, livestock and other agricultural sectors the last several years. This measure will help many farmers and ranchers recover financially from these setbacks and put farmers and ranchers in a better position to repay their bank loans and continue their farming operations. We're hopeful conferees agree and carry through on this commitment to our agricultural sector," stated Camden R. Fine, ICBA president and CEO.

The $2.9 billion aid package would be distributed by the USDA and apply to losses in either 2003 or 2004, but not both years. The measure would provide for "such sums as necessary" to handle agricultural disasters and as "emergency spending" does not need to be offset with reductions in other programs. As with past disaster programs, producers would be paid based on actual losses that exceed specified levels. Producers without crop insurance coverage would be required to purchase such coverage for the next two years.

The Homeland Security Appropriations measure is expected to be taken up in a House-Senate conference within the next couple of weeks.