Berry, Ohio Congressman Tour Grand Prairie

APRIL 23, 2004 - Posted at 2:36 p.m. CDT

STUTTGART, AR - Ohio Congressman David Hobson is visiting the Grand Prairie of eastern Arkansas today at the request of Democratic Congressman Marion Berry, who sits on the water resources subcommittee chaired by Hobson.

Hobson, a Republican, met with local farmers who are using a cost-sharing program offered by the Army Corps of Engineers to irrigate their farms. The project costs $319 million, $35 million of which has already been spent on building retention ponds on the farm.

The focal point of the project is a water-pumping station at DeValls Bluff. Environmental groups claim pumping water would damage the White River, one of the nation's largest waterfowl refuges.

Hobson said he learns by seeing projects and talking to the farmers who use them. Farmers told him that with underground aquifers drying up, tapping the White River for irrigation was their last chance to sustain a major rice-growing region.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)