WASHINGTON -- America's farmers can continue to count on Congress to provide assistance in several ways during continued economic difficulties, says Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss.

Speaking to members of the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation on their annual visit to Capitol Hill, Cochran said, "Over the past three years, Congress has provided over $25 billion in emergency assistance for the U.S. agriculture sector which has experienced economic difficulties due to declining export demand, higher production costs, and weather-related problems.

"According to USDA and promiment agriculture economists, the U.S. agriculture economy will continue to face persistent low prices and depressed farm income this year and a strong rebound in farm prices and income from the market appears unlikely."

Cochran has written a letter to the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee requesting emergency economic assistance.

"I have asked the chairman for his assistance, because I believe it is vitally important to provide at least as much total economic assistance for 2001 and 2002 as was provided for the 2000 crop year since farm income is not projected to improve.

"This action would address some of the problems in the short term, while allowing the Agriculture Committee the time to develop a comprehensive new farm bill when the current law expires."