Farmers hope for aid – Too many ‘flat, busted broke’

Heavy spring rains forced him to replant 100 acres of soybeans at his Sand Hill farm and cost him $3 to $4 a bushel on the price of the beans. That was followed by a summer drought and more rain in the fall that slashed his corn yield to about half his five-year average.

“This is going to be one of the toughest years financially,” said Boyd, 41.

He and other farmers in the South say they desperately need the emergency aid included in legislation Mississippi’s senators introduced last month.

“It’s virtually a necessity because they’re broke,” said Ernie Flint, an agronomist with Mississippi State University’s Extension Service. “They’re absolutely flat, busted broke.”

The bipartisan bill introduced by Republican Sens. Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker aims to speed federal disaster aid to the farmers. Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, who chairs the Senate agriculture committee, supports the bill, which boosts its chances of passage.

“I believe we have a good argument for providing direct payments to farmers whose crops have been ruined this year by floods, drought and other disaster conditions,” said Cochran, a member of the agriculture committee.

On Wednesday, Reps. Travis Childers, Mississippi’s 1st District congressman, and fellow Democrat Marion Berr of Arkansas introduced a similar bill in the House.