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Washington, DC —  Senator John Thune today spoke on the Senate floor, urging his colleagues to support an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2007 Agriculture Appropriations bill that would provide emergency agriculture disaster assistance to farmers and ranchers who have been hit by a multi-year drought. The measure failed to get the three-fifths necessary for passage. Senator Thune will continue to fight for this much-needed relief in the 110th Congress.

Below is the text of Senator Thune's prepared remarks:

All natural disasters have the potential to destroy homes and properties, harm businesses, and cripple local and state economies.

But unlike other natural disasters, drought is a slow, steady destroyer. Hurricanes and tornadoes can plow a path of destruction through an area in under an hour, while drought can damage a region for months, or even years, on end.

Because the damage and impact is harder to calculate in a 24-hour news cycle, drought is often not given the same focus or assistance.

But anyone who has seen firsthand the effects of this year's drought on our farmers, ranchers and businesses knows this drought demands the same urgent attention and relief of any other natural disaster our country has suffered.

During this past spring and summer, I visited every corner of South Dakota, much of which was hit hard by this year's drought. What I witnessed was devastating.

Simply put, there were no crops where there should have been.

Even in fields where you saw crops, when you got a closer look, there were no ears on corn stalks. Where the soybeans should have been lush and thick, they weren't. Where there should have been hay and grass, there wasn't.

And now, this fall, where there should be cows, there aren't, because producers have had to sell off their herds.

Today with snow flying in the Midwest, some have forgotten about delivering drought assistance. But, I remain committed to exploring and exhausting every opportunity to get emergency relief to our farmers and ranchers in South Dakota who are grappling with the aftermath of the worst drought conditions since the Great Depression.

The harvest season may have come to a close, but the crippling impact of a multi-year drought on our agriculture industry in South Dakota is far from over. I will continue to push for real relief for the farmers and ranchers whose products are the livelihood of their families' futures and the backbone of our state's economy.

I'm pleased to join my colleagues in co-sponsoring this amendment and I hope we pass it here today.