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Agriculture disaster relief still not coming

WASHINGTON — A jobs bill that had gained broad bipartisan support should not have been pulled from consideration, particularly since it included $1.5 billion for agriculture disaster relief, U.S. Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss) said.

The agriculture disaster section of the bill was based off of legislation Wicker introduced last November along with Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss) and Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark).

The jobs bill, which was unveiled Feb. 11 by the top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, contained a number of business tax incentives and other provisions designed to spur economic development, including the agriculture disaster funding. The package had built bipartisan support quickly, including an endorsement from President Obama, before Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced he was scrapping the bill and replacing it with a much more limited plan without agriculture disaster relief.

“It was extremely disappointing to see this bipartisan jobs bill scrapped, particularly since it included the agriculture assistance so many of Mississippi’s farmers need,” Wicker said. “Legislation aimed at creating jobs and helping our economy should not ignore those in the agriculture community who are struggling. In Mississippi, heavy rains and flooding last fall devastated crops across the state. This disaster has had a negative impact on our entire economy.”

Wicker said that while he is disappointed the jobs bill was scuttled, he is not giving up on enacting agriculture disaster relief.

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