Recent Press Releases

Washington, D.C. —  Senator John Thune today sent a letter to Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Ranking Member Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) requesting a full committee hearing to evaluate the impacts of the current credit crisis on agricultural production, renewable energy production, and rural agricultural based businesses.

"The credit crisis is forcing important projects in both agricultural and renewable energy production to be put on hold," said Thune. "Commodity prices have fallen from this summer's historic highs, meaning that financing for both new projects and current operating obligations is uncertain.

"The crisis that has shaken the financial markets is clearly being felt on our farms, ranches, and rural Main Streets. Agriculture is especially dependent on access to credit, and continued uncertainty could present problems for the agriculture sector as we approach the 2009 crop year."

Senator Thune is a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee and is the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Energy, Science, and Technology.

The text of Senator Thune's letter follows.

November 10, 2008

Senator Tom Harkin
Committee on Agriculture,
Forestry, and Nutrition
Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Senator Saxby Chambliss
Ranking Member
Committee on Agriculture,
Forestry, and Nutrition
Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairman Harkin and Ranking Member Chambliss:

I am writing to request that you hold a full Committee hearing to evaluate the extent of which the current credit crisis is impacting the agriculture sector, renewable energy production and rural agriculture based businesses.

As you are well aware, our nation's financial markets have experienced a number of unprecedented challenges this year. While the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve have taken numerous steps to shore-up credit markets - including administering the recently enacted Financial Stabilization bill that Congress passed, it will be several months before the full benefit of this assistance is realized. Over the past month, I have heard from constituents and industry leaders in the agriculture sector about renewable energy projects in rural areas that are being put on hold, ethanol plants and grain elevators that are struggling to meet their operating obligations, and agriculture producers and small businesses that are burdened with uncertain sources of financing as commodity prices have fallen from historic levels this summer.

In rural areas across the country, I believe the credit crisis is beginning to impact agriculture producers, families, and Main Street businesses. Agriculture is heavily dependent on affordable and accessible credit. As producers look toward the 2009 crop year, they are faced with uncertain commodity prices and above average input prices. It is critical that family farms, renewable energy producers, and agribusinesses have access to credit, which will keep rural America producing food, feed and fuel for the country.

I encourage you to hold a hearing as soon as possible to fully evaluate the impact that the credit crisis is having on agriculture and rural businesses. Should you have any questions regarding this request, please don't hesitate to contact me directly. Thank you for your time and consideration of this request.


United States Senate