NFU Urges Senate Support for Permanent Disaster Program

US - National Farmers Union members from across the country are in Washington, D.C. this week to meet directly with lawmakers and urge their support for the organization’s 2007 Farm Bill priorities and other issues impacting rural America
calendar icon 20 September 2007
clock icon 2 minute read

Most notable among the organization’s farm bill priorities is the creation of a permanent disaster assistance program to provide a helping hand to America’s family farmers and ranchers affected by weather conditions out of their control.

“Weather-related disasters occur each year in all corners of the country, and with today’s structure of providing disaster assistance on a case by case basis, many producers are left waiting for years before help arrives,” NFU President Tom Buis said. “A permanent disaster program would alleviate this problem by providing an assured safety net in the event of extreme weather conditions.”

Since 1998, Congress has approved 23 ad hoc disaster assistance bills totaling $47 billion. Each time, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has to develop and implement a different program and producers often wait years for relief. The FY2007 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill contained disaster aid for 2005, 2006 and 2007 losses and USDA just recently announced sign up dates to distribute these funds.

The House-passed farm bill authorizes a permanent disaster program, but due to the farm bill’s decreased budget baseline, the resources were not available for its funding. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus last week outlined a tax package that would provide the funds to create a permanent disaster program.

“I commend Chairman Baucus for his support of family farmers and ranchers and his efforts in providing the funds needed to create a permanent disaster program,” Buis said. “I would strongly encourage the Senate to support a permanent disaster program when it begins farm bill considerations.”

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