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Chairman David Scott Opening Statement at 2020 WHIP+ Reauthorization Act and Associated Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute Business Meeting

WASHINGTON House Agriculture Committee Chairman David Scott delivered the following statement at today's business meeting titled “To Consider H.R. 267, 2020 WHIP+ Reauthorization Act and associated Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute.”

[As prepared for delivery]
Thank you all for participating in this important business meeting today. The issues before us are of critical importance to agricultural producers across the country that have been impacted by severe disasters last year and this year.

Following Hurricane Irma in 2017, that hit my home state of Georgia, I worked with my partners, Sanford Bishop and Austin Scott, to secure assistance for our producers. Unfortunately, because there was not a disaster program in place, farmers had to wait almost two years to get the assistance they needed. I have long said that we need a mechanism in place that can get aid to producers immediately after disasters strike.

Without that immediate aid, the results can be tragic. Because of the economic toll sustained, there were some producers that committed suicide. It’s heartbreaking to hear the stories that follow these ravaging storms.

The Federal crop insurance program has served as a critical risk management tool for producers, and we need more producers to participate in the program. I appreciate the leadership of our Subcommittee chair, Cheri Bustos, on ensuring we maintain and strengthen the program. The bill here today would bring in more producers by requiring them to purchase crop insurance the next two years after receiving assistance.

The severity of these disasters has required supplemental assistance, and that’s why I have prioritized extending the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus for 2020 and 2021.

The proposal before the Committee extends the program and makes some important updates. We have taken the base of H.R. 267, sponsored by Representative Mike Thompson, and drafted the Substitute Amendment that is before us.

Many Members of the Committee have helped us in putting this together, and I thank them for their tireless efforts.

Representatives Jimmy Panetta, Salud Carbajal and Josh Harder are cosponsors of H.R. 267, and fought alongside Jim Costa and others to extend WHIP+ and to make sure their wine grape farmers are covered.

Representative Cindy Axne has been vocal about extending WHIP+ to get aid to her producers impacted by a derecho last year.

And Representative Kim Schrier has producers whose fruits and vegetables are burning up due to excessive heat as we speak.

Representatives Angie Craig, Abigail Spanberger, and Dusty Johnson have important legislation to give flexibility to ranchers to be able to access feed from cover crops without being penalized on their crop insurance. Earlier this summer, USDA announced those flexibilities administratively, and so I applaud their leadership to influence that announcement.

Representatives Henry Cuellar and Michael Cloud have also fought to extend WHIP+ with their RESTORE Act, which was led by Representative Ronny Jackson.

Many of these ideas are incorporated into this proposal.

And throughout this process, I am proud and grateful to have worked closely with the ranking member, GT Thompson. I sincerely appreciate your partnership.

Moving forward, I am continuing to explore longer term options for mechanisms to get aid out to producers immediately following a disaster.
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