The Office of Management of the Budget indicates the administration is still looking for $1.5 billion in disaster relief assistance for farmers across the United States, including Arkansas, the home state of Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Blanche Lincoln. The White House is being accused of providing the funding in order to boost Senator Lincoln's re-election prospects in Arkansas, where she faces a stiff challenge. Opponents say the funds simply do not exist.
Opponents say the matter of disaster assistance was addressed in the 2008 Farm Bill with the establishment of the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments Program. That program requires a farmer to purchase crop insurance to be eligible to receive disaster relief payments. Most southern farmers did not purchase crop insurance, saying the high premiums outweigh the benefits received.
House Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., has said that finding this disaster aid within the budget of USDA is legally near impossible and that such funding needs to be legislatively authorized. Ranking Member Frank Lucas, R-Okla., says allowing the administration shift of funds set's a dangerous precedent.