What ever happened to disaster aid bills?

Matt Mechtel

Today I looked at my calendar, Feb 1. Already a month into 2007. Personally, for myself and my family, 2006 was an absolutely crazy year.

Thinking back about everything that happened, something struck me today as I worked on my planter, getting ready to seed corn in 2007.

What happened to the Disaster Bill? Does anyone remember that hot election topic? Everyone, including myself, made it a centerpiece of his or her campaign for 2006 in this neck of the woods. Today, there is barely an echo of disaster aid talk. I am pretty sure nothing much has changed out in farm country. There were quite a few producers hit hard with extreme heat and dry conditions.

After thinking about this today, it reminded me of a moment in the campaign. At a “meet the candidate” event a month or so ahead of the election, someone coyly asked me, “Which party is more farmer friendly: Democrats or Republicans? Be honest!”

With just a little thought, I answered the audience member, “I don’t really think it is as much a partisan issue as it is a regional issue, and let’s face it, up here in farm country, we simply do not have the numbers to be as effective as we would like out in D.C.” I am not really sure whether he liked my answer, but after watching the Democratic Party take control of the House and the Senate, and remembering the discussions of election year 2006, I believe it to be one of the biggest truths spoke during my campaign.

I am sure farm country politicians are working to try and put something together, but is anyone really listening? Is the power structure in Washington, D.C., even slightly interested in it right now? There is a new sheriff in town out there, and it seems that the last thing on their mind is helping out some farmers in the Midwest.

Everyone was excited about the potential for change with the result of the election. As a farmer, I ask other farmers and ranchers, in the way of disaster aid, what has changed?

Clout comes from votes, ladies and gentleman, not senators and congressmen, and votes are something farm country just doesn’t have a whole lot of, nor are we getting any more of them.


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