After Tester Push, USDA to Distribute More Than $1.75 Billion to Producers Impacted By Natural Disasters

Senator was the only member of Montana’s delegation to vote for emergency relief funding headed to farmers and ranchers

U.S. Senator Jon Tester announced today that after he successfully pressed the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), more than $1.75 billion in Emergency Relief Program (ERP) payments and Emergency Livestock Relief Payment (ELRP) payments will be distributed to American farmers and ranchers.

As a senior member of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Tester secured $3.7 billion for these relief payments in the 2023 government funding bill last December. He was the only member of the delegation to vote for these relief funds. ERP provides assistance to agricultural producers who suffered losses due to drought, wildfire, and other eligible disasters in 2022. ELRP makes similar assistance available to livestock producers.

“As a third-generation Montana farmer, I know firsthand how devastating disasters like drought and wildfires can be to our producers. That’s why I’ll always fight to make sure these folks get the assistance they need to not only offset their own losses but also to invest in our nation’s food security for years to come,” said Tester. “These relief payments to our producers are long overdue, and I’m proud to have fought to put these dollars back in the pockets of American farmers and ranchers.”

Today’s $1.75 billion relief funding announcement comes directly after Senator Testersent a letter yesterday to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack asking for an update on the status of these payments. After hearing directly from Montana farmers and ranchers, Tester stressed to Secretary Vilsack that ERP and ELRP payments are critical for Montana producers: “I am hearing from a large number of agricultural producers in my state who are frustrated that they have not received their 2022 payments. These payments provide critical assistance to farmers and ranchers who are working to recover from historic droughts and other disasters.” Today’s announcement will give Montana agricultural producers greater certainty as they recover from historic droughts, floods, and other natural disasters.

As the only working farmer in the U.S. Senate, Tester has a long record of getting disaster relief to struggling producers across America and in Montana. In addition to championing ERP and ELRP, Tester led a successful, bipartisan effort to push USDA to expand the Emergency Assistance for Livestock Program (ELAP) to cover costs associated with hauling feed and water to livestock in drought, and vice versa. In June, Tester introduced his bipartisan Livestock Disaster Relief Act with Senator John Hoeven (R-N.D.) to help ensure that Montana’s ranchers receive the relief funding needed to recover from future disasters. Tester’s bipartisan bill would improve the Livestock Forage Program (LFP) and Emergency Assistance for Livestock Program (ELAP) to better meet the needs of ranchers impacted by drought and other natural disasters.

If producers have questions about these payments, they should contact their local USDA Service Center.


Related Issues