WASHINGTON - The U.S. House of Representatives today passed a supplemental appropriations bill that included $3.7 billion for agriculture disaster assistance for farmers and ranchers who experienced losses in 2005-2007.
"This disaster package will finally provide some relief to farmers and ranchers who have been waiting for Congress to act for more than a year," said Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson. "I told farmers and ranchers across the country that a Democratic Congress would make this a high priority, and today's vote demonstrates our commitment to making good on that promise."
While the agriculture disaster assistance package provides much needed assistance for farmers and ranchers, Chairman Peterson worked closely with House Leadership to create a program that was disciplined and fiscally restrained. Producers can apply for a disaster payment for only one of the three years covered in the proposal, and for the first time, only farmers who had insured their crop are eligible for payments.
The agriculture disaster assistance package includes assistance for farmers who lost 35% or more of their crop in one of the covered years and for livestock producers in counties that experienced USDA designated natural disasters during the covered time.
The need for agriculture disaster assistance is clear and pressing. Natural disasters including hurricanes, floods, droughts, wildfires, heat waves, blizzards and other weather-related events caused serious damage to crops and livestock in 2005, 2006 and 2007. More than 80 percent of all U.S. counties have been declared primary or contiguous disaster areas by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) during the past three years.
A coalition of more than 30 farm and allied organizations strongly urged Congress to pass disaster assistance last year and has voiced strong support for the agriculture disaster assistance provisions in the supplemental appropriations bill.