The House and Senate on Thursday approved a short-term Continuing Resolution (CR), averting a partial government shutdown, keeping federal agencies funded through December 3. The stopgap funding measure passed the Senate on a vote of 65-35 and cleared the House 254-175.
In addition to keeping the federal government open, the CR included supplemental disaster relief for recent hurricanes, wildfires, and other natural disasters. Agriculture disaster funding would primarily be administered through an extension of the Wildfire, and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP+) for the 2020 and 2021 calendar year with some program enhancements. Key components of the disaster relief include:
- Eligible commodities for WHIP+ include crops that were eligible for either federal crop insurance or Noninsured Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) coverage as well as milk, on-farm stored commodities, crops prevented from planting in 2020 and 2021, and harvested adulterated wine grapes, trees, bushes, and vines.
- Assistance will be available for losses incurred due to drought, wildfires, hurricanes, floods, Derechos, excessive heat, winter storms, freeze, including a polar vortex, smoke exposure, quality losses of crops, and excessive moisture occurring in calendar years 2020 and 2021.
- Losses due to drought specifically, shall only be eligible if any area within the county in which the loss occurs was rated by the U.S. Drought Monitor as having a D2 (Severe Drought) for eight consecutive weeks or a D3 (Extreme Drought) or higher level of drought intensity during the applicable calendar years.
- 1% of disaster relief funds may be used for administrative costs, including streamlining the application process and easing the workload on county Farm Service Agency (FSA) employees, to carry out the disaster program.
- Separate payment limitations are applied for a person or legal entity that experienced a loss in 2020 and 2021.
- Eligible disaster payments are calculated net of crop insurance premiums or fees.
- Disaster relief is capped for a producer or legal entity at 90% of the loss if a producer or legal entity was insured and 70% of the loss if the producer or entity was uninsured.
A comprehensive list of all provisions of the agricultural disaster assistance contained in the CR can be found by visiting https://bit.ly/39SUbim
“Passage of the Continuing Resolution, ensures federal agencies including the FSA and NRCS continue to remain open and operational through December 3, providing certainty to employees and cotton producers as Farm Bill safety-net and conservation programs are currently being implemented,” said PCG CEO Kody Bessent. “Additionally, the supplemental agricultural disaster assistance contained in the CR will provide much needed relief to farmers and ranchers who have been vastly impacted by recent drought, hurricanes, wildfires and other natural disasters.”
Plains Cotton Growers looks forward to working with USDA and other agencies as these importance improvements and enhancements to WHIP+ are implemented.