House Stands Firm and Prevails on Agriculture Disaster Assistance

May 25, 2007

WASHINGTON, DC – Despite stiff opposition from President Bush, the U.S. House of Representatives has prevailed to pass a supplemental appropriations bill that includes about $3 billion for agriculture disaster assistance that will provide needed relief to farmers and ranchers nationwide who experienced serious losses in 2005-2007.

After President Bush vetoed the supplemental spending legislation that included agriculture disaster assistance, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democratic leaders negotiated a compromise bill with the White House that will still provide agriculture disaster assistance.

Earlier this month when the House considered the supplemental appropriations bill again, President Bush issued a veto threat, citing the proposed agriculture disaster assistance provisions as “unnecessary and unwarranted.”

However, House leaders recognized the reality facing rural communities nationwide – that natural disasters including floods, droughts, wildfires, heat waves, blizzards, freezes and other weather related events have caused serious damage to farmers and ranchers. In these communities, the proposed disaster assistance is both necessary and warranted.

“I appreciate the House Leadership for remaining steadfast in their support for this assistance, which will help our rural communities recover from weather-related disasters that have damaged local economies over the past few years,” said Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson. “This Congress has delivered a fiscally responsible package that meets the most pressing needs for assistance in agriculture and rural communities.”

The agriculture disaster assistance package includes assistance for farmers who lost 35% or more of their crop in 2005, 2006 or 2007 and for livestock producers in counties that experienced USDA designated natural disasters during that time. Producers can apply for a disaster payment for only one of those three years, and for the first time, only farmers who had insured their crop through crop insurance or the Non-Insured Assistance Program are eligible for payments.

A coalition of more than 30 farm and allied organizations consistently voiced strong support for the agriculture disaster assistance provisions in the supplemental appropriations bill.