Tester asks Ag Secretary for ‘all federal resources at your disposal’
Senator’s call for flooding assistance follows Governor’s request
(U.S. SENATE) U.S. Senator Jon Tester is asking the Secretary of Agriculture for “all federal resources at your disposal” to assist Montana counties whose farms and ranches are severely affected by record flooding.
Tester today asked Secretary Tom Vilsack to immediately approve Governor Brian Schweitzer’s recent request for U.S. Department of Agriculture assistance on behalf of 17 Montana counties.
“Flood conditions have led to severe crop and livestock loss, and damage to irrigation infrastructure throughout the state,” Tester wrote Vilsack. “I urge you to expedite review of these requests for Secretarial disaster declaration, and to approve them with all possible speed.”
Tester, a farmer and a member of the Senate Committee that oversees FEMA, organized a well-attended public meeting in Billings last week for affected farmers and ranchers. Tester was joined by Farm Service Agency Administrator Bruce Nelson and other agricultural leaders at the informational meeting.
Tester also launched a resource website, tester.senate.gov/flood, to help Montanans looking for assistance and other information about flooding.
Tester’s letter to Vilsack appears below.
The Honorable Thomas J. Vilsack
Secretary of Agriculture
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Whitten Bldg, Room 200A
Washington DC, 20250
I am writing to urge your immediate approval of a request by Governor Brian Schweitzer of Montana for assistance with disaster conditions in many Montana counties.
As you know, the State of Montana has suffered severe flooding over the course of the spring, with some areas receiving more than an average annual rainfall in the month of May alone. Flood conditions have led to severe crop and livestock loss, and damage to irrigation infrastructure throughout the state.
The catastrophic spring rain follows an unusually significant snow accumulation in the Rocky Mountains that has yet to melt, which will cause further swelling of our rivers and streams. Snowpack in parts of the Missouri river watershed are over 500% of their normal levels for this late in the year. Agricultural communities are rightly concerned that the already significant damage to their economies will continue well into the summer. Excessive rainfall began early in the spring, and has prevented many Montana farmers from being able to plant a crop at all this season.
Many Montana agricultural communities have requested Secretarial disaster designations for their counties. As of today, I understand that the Governor of Montana has submitted requests for Secretarial disaster declaration for Valley, Custer, Rosebud, Glacier, Petroleum, Judith Basin, Dawson, Wibaux, Garfield, Carter, Fallon, Powder River, Fergus, Treasure, Wheatland, Big Horn, and Musselshell counties.
I urge you to expedite review of these requests for Secretarial disaster declaration, and to approve them with all possible speed. Please make available all federal resources at your disposal to assist producers in these counties.
United States Senator