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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., along with his colleagues from Montana, Democrat Max Baucus and Republican Conrad Burns and others sponsored legislation designed to give drought-stricken ranchers some financial relief. The senators offered the proposal as an amendment today to another package concerning the nation's economic security, but the amendment was three votes shy of the 60 votes necessary to waive a budget point of order brought against it. The amendment failed by a vote of 57- 33.

Enzi took a positive view. He said the majority vote reflects strong support for his proposal and bodes well for another attempt at passage. He also noted that some senators were absent and missed the vote so support for the proposal could have been even greater.

Enzi delivered the following statement before the vote.

Statement of Senate Michael B. Enzi
On the Emergency Livestock Assistance Program

Mr. President: I rise in support of the Baucus-Enzi amendment that would allocate $500 million in emergency spending for the Livestock Assistance Program. The Livestock Assistance Program (LAP) is an ad hoc program administered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) through the Farm Service Agency. It is available to livestock producers in counties that have been declared disaster areas by the President or Secretary of Agriculture. It provides financial relief to livestock producers that are experiencing livestock production loss due to drought and other disasters. Livestock producers in my state of Wyoming have been hard hit by drought and the drought out look for this year isn't optimistic.

You may not know that in the primary case of drought, producers usually suffer the loss of grazing sources. The Livestock Assistance Program commonly provides the means to buy supplemental feed for their livestock.

Although Congress made a full commitment to this program when it authorized it several years ago, the program was not funded in FY2002 in either the emergency agriculture supplemental FY2002 or the Agricultural Appropriations FY2002 bill.

I believe this program funding is critical to the continuing viability of ranches in Wyoming. This amendment would provide short-term, immediate economic stimulus to Wyoming's agricultural population. The program is appropriate for the economic stimulus package because it directly stimulates the agricultural sector. This money will be spent immediately in rural areas to pay debt and purchase winter feed for livestock.

The U.S. Drought Monitor, presented by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the National Drought Mitigation Center and the Climate Prediction Center shows that the entire northwestern U. S. is experiencing extreme and severe drought. This is the second year of continuous drought for Wyoming's producers. In these conditions, the state's natural resources have been unable to recover. In order to conserve these resources, the state and federal government have evicted ranchers from state and federal leased lands. Producers have been forced to find alternative grazing arrangements where pastureland is limited. Many producers grazed hay fields last summer and fall that had been slotted to provide winter feed. Virtually ever indicator – precipitation, snowpack, and reservoir levels – show the drought may get worse.

In fiscal year 2001, the Livestock Assistance Program was funded at approximately $430 million. In Wyoming, 933 producers received $7,752,029 in assistance from those funds. Nationally, it provided assistance to about 186,000 producers at 88 percent of their grazing loss for drought and other disasters experienced in 2000. This year the need in Wyoming is similar. Providing the program with $500 million for drought experienced in 2001 would ensure that producers receive assistance for 100 percent of their grazing losses due to drought. Wyoming producers would receive approximately $9 million. The USDA has indicated that this level of funding would be sufficient for this year.

Half of Wyoming's counties have been declared drought disaster areas for the second continuous year. The Secretary of Agriculture has already officially declared many counties as disaster areas in the livestock-producing states of Montana, Idaho, Washington, Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Iowa and Texas and Kentucky.

I ask my colleagues to take a long hard look at the merits of this amendment. This amendment would provide livestock producers with the opportunity to continue their operations and stay in business for another year. I ask my colleagues to support this bill and to pray for rain and snow in the West.