Rep. Crawford addresses federal drought aid during farm tour

SMITHVILLE, AR (KAIT)- Congressman Rick Crawford visited Smithville this afternoon to push for a new farm bill.

The legislation must be approved by the House before September 30th.

Crawford encouraged unity while spreading the word that federal assistance is available for farmers and livestock producers hit hard by an exceptional lack of rain.

He says the new farm bill has moved away from the "Midwestern" approach to better represent families right here in Region 8.

"One of the things we did with this bill in the House version was to recognize the diversity of production that exists region to region, and really is encapsulated in the 1st District of Arkansas. We have a lot of diversity in this district."

This historical drought has severely impacted the entire spectrum of agriculture in Region 8, from corn, cotton, rice, and soybean in eastern Arkansas--to poultry and cattle in the central part of the state.

Harold Lance has been farming in Independence County for nearly 60 years, and says he hasn't seen it this hot and dry since the 1980s.

Lance's hay crop is down to one-fourth of what he normally cuts.

"All the farms are getting hurt, but if we don't get some help from Washington, the family farms are going to be a thing of the past. And then I don't know what we're going to do about something to eat."

Lance says the market has been flooded with cattle recently, and the price per pound has dropped 15 cents.

"I think they're going to go down for awhile, and then they'll get real high if we start getting some rain and people start buying back."

In Lawrence and Randolph Counties, many producers are struggling, unable to feed their livestock during what Crawford considers the worst drought in 30 years.

The Congressman will be voicing all these agricultural concerns in Washington D.C. in the coming weeks.

Farmers who have been forced to sell their livestock may be eligible for a deferment on capital gains.

"Go to the FSA office and get all the information. Also encourage them to reach out to their county extension office. They can be a great source for information and just make sure they are aware of what resources are available."

More information on the livestock grant can be found here.

The latest drought monitor is updated here.

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