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 Family Farm Alliance
May 5, 2006

The Honorable George W. Bush
 
Dear President Bush:

The Family Farm Alliance (Alliance) respectfully requests that the United States provide
assistance via a federal disaster declaration to aid the west coast ocean salmon fishing industry
that has been severely restricted this year.

The Alliance is a grassroots organization of family farmers, ranchers, irrigation districts, and
allied industries in 16 Western states. The Alliance is focused on one mission: To ensure the
availability of reliable, affordable irrigation water supplies to Western farmers and ranchers.

This unprecedented curtailment of commercial salmon fishing along 700 miles of coastline in
Oregon and California is having immediate and profound impacts to fishing families. Because
of the fishery closures and lack of income, these families are unable to pay moorage for their
boats, maintain their vessels, pay insurance, make house payments, or even buy groceries.

Seafood businesses and coastal communities in both states will also feel the devastating impacts
of these closures. With timely assistance, an emergency declaration can mitigate what would
otherwise have severe ramifications for many other businesses in rural coastal economies.

Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski declared a state of emergency on April 24, 2006 in response
to the closure of the salmon season and issued an Executive Order directing state agencies to
respond immediately. We urge you, in the strongest possible terms, to make a federal disaster
declaration. By doing so, Oregon and California fishing families would gain access to Disaster
Unemployment Assistance (DUA). Time is of the essence, because many of these families are
facing imminent bankruptcy.

Earlier this week, I met with commercial fishermen in Coos Bay, Oregon. These hard-working
individuals have much in common with the farmers and ranchers of the Family Farm Alliance. It
is clear that the fishermen of Coos Bay would much rather work than receive federal assistance.
Unfortunately, the restrictions on the salmon fisheries are likely to be in place this summer and
next summer. With your help, these fishermen can sustain their industry during these temporary
closures so they can get back to work in the near future.


Thank you for your consideration of this important matter.

Sincerely,
Dan Keppen
Executive Director

 

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