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Opening Statements

Opening Statement: Republican Leader Glenn 'GT' Thompson Full Committee Business Meeting: To Consider H.R. 267, 2020 WHIP+ Reauthorization Act

Remark as prepared delivery:

Chairman Scott, thank you for your leadership on this issue and for working with me in a bipartisan fashion to ensure that the authorizing committee has a say when it comes to disaster assistance for our producers.

This extension of the Wildfire Hurricane Indemnity Program disaster program for 2020 and 2021 losses is crucial. With fires raging out West, drought gripping the upper plains, and floods washing through the Mississippi Delta it seems like no producer has been spared the wrath of Mother Nature this year. That is why it is important we build some momentum for relief, which I hope the advancement of this bill with the key improvements made by the ANS will do.

In addition to Congressman Mike Thompson, whose bill we are amending today, I also want to commend Congressman Ronnie Jackson and the bipartisan group of 15 cosponsors who introduced H.R. 1692, the RESTORE Act. All of the policy modifications made by that bill have been incorporated into the ANS we will consider today.

This bill, as amended, provides for an extension of support for producers incurring crop losses due to a disaster event in 2020 and 2021 as well as extends assistance to dairies who were forced to dump milk, or farmers with losses to on-farm stored commodities.

Additionally, we expand the list of eligible disaster events to also include high winds and derechos—a key priority for my friend from Iowa, Representative Feenstra. Losses due to excessive heat, drought, and freezes like the polar vortex that hit Texas earlier this year would also be covered.

One of the biggest complaints we have heard about WHIP+ in 2018 and 2019 was the overly cumbersome application process and the workload that was placed on Farm Service Agency field staff. In order to address these concerns, we provide USDA with the necessary administration funds to make investments in technology and staff necessary to streamline the application process.

I want to thank the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Milk Producers Federation, the National Cotton Council and countless other commodity organizations that have provided input and are supportive of this effort.

Finally, I wanted to close with some reflections on crop insurance. Along with Congresswoman Bustos, I was the cofounder of the Crop Insurance Caucus last Congress. We know hands down, crop insurance is the most vitally important risk management tool for our producers. The best way to reduce the need for costly ad hoc assistance is to make sure there are policies out there that work well for every crop and region of the country.

To continue to grow participation in crop insurance, this bill maintains the requirement that producers receiving assistance under WHIP+ purchase crop insurance for at least two consecutive crop years.

Mr. Chairman, I am proud of the work our teams have put together, I am proud of the bipartisan cooperation you and I have had on both broadband and now disaster, and I am proud to support the ANS and would urge my colleagues’ support. 

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