The House passed Jan. 16 the Disaster Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2019 (H.R. 268) by a vote of 237 to 187, and the bill includes an amendment to increase emergency assistance to farmers impacted by natural disasters such as Hurricane Michael in 2018.
The amendment was filed by U.S. Representatives Sanford Bishop (D-GA-02) and U.S. Representatives Austin Scott (R-GA-08) and increases payments for losses from 85 percent to 90 percent for producers with crop insurance and from 65 percent to 70 percent for producers without insurance and increases funding levels from $1.1 billion that was initially recommended by the USDA to $3 billion.
“Hurricane Michael devastated Southwest Georgia and left a path of destruction into Virginia. Across the State of Georgia, many producers suffered near 100 percent crop losses. The pecan, peanut, cotton, vegetable, and poultry industries all experienced significant damages not just in 2018, but for the last three straight years,” Bishop said. “I want to thank Austin Scott and the twelve bipartisan cosponsors of this amendment for our collaboration in developing solutions for these agricultural producers who suffered such great losses.”
“I urge my colleagues in the Senate to take up this legislation and send it to the President’s desk so we can reopen the government and help the people of Georgia’s Second District, and the other communities across the country and its territories, including Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the Virgin Islands,” Bishop said.
“Farmers and rural communities across our country have been reeling from the impacts of devastating losses from natural disasters. In my home state of Georgia alone, damages have been estimated at over $2.5 billion with many producers losing not only this year’s crop but impacting them for years to come,” Scott said. “For months now, Sanford Bishop and I have worked to deliver relief to farmers and rural communities in Georgia. I thank him for his support on this amendment, and I look forward to continuing to work with him and others to complete this process.”
In response to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, and other natural disasters in 2017, Congress created the Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program (WHIP) through the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018. This program through USDA is to provide disaster payments to agricultural producers to offset losses from hurricanes, wildfires, and other natural disasters. The Bishop-Scott amendment ensures $3 billion will be appropriated into WHIP to provide relief for producers impacted by Hurricane Michael and other natural disasters in 2018.
Cosponsors of the amendment include U.S. Representatives Robert Aderholt (R-AL-04), Neal Dunn (R-FL-02), Josh Harder (D-CA-10), Al Lawson (D-FL-05), Tom Rice (R-SC-07), Martha Roby (R-AL-02), David Rouzer (R-NC-07), David Scott (D-GA-13), Terri Sewell (D-AL-07), Darren Soto (D-FL09), Joe Wilson (R-SC-02), and Ted Yoho (R-FL-03).
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