Baucus, Conrad, Tester, Johnson (SD) urge quick action for farmers, ranchers hit by drought, fire

Senators Call on Leadership to Move Forward on Bill to Extend Agriculture Disaster Assistance for 2012

(Washington, D.C.) – Senators Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) are urging Senate Leadership to take quick action on their bill to extend agriculture disaster assistance programs for farmers and ranchers devastated by drought and wildfires this year. 

“America’s farmers and ranchers get dirt under their nails every day to put food on our tables, and they deserve to know we stand behind them when disaster strikes,” Baucus said.  “Drought and fires don’t wait for Congress to act, so our farmers and ranchers – and the American jobs they support – need us to move quickly.”

“America’s agriculture producers deliver the greatest, most affordable food supply the world has ever known. When Mother Nature strikes, we need to be able to help limit the scope of the damage,” Conrad said. “That means when confronted with raging fires, epic drought, or hundred year floods, our producers need to know that there is a safety net in place to minimize the impact of disaster and help ensure our family farmers will not be put out of business by events far beyond their control. Our disaster programs deliver just that support.”

“Montana farmers and ranchers whose jobs and lives are being affected by devastating drought and fires can’t wait on the House of Representatives to pass the Senate’s farm bill to get help,” Tester said.  “That’s why we have to pass this new bill to quickly direct resources to these counties and get Montana producers the assistance they need.”

“We continue to see inaction on the part of House leadership to bring a farm bill up for consideration.  Given this uncertainty, I hope the Senate will again take the lead and bring this disaster assistance bill to the floor as soon as possible so that our producers can have access to the assistance they need,” Johnson said.

Complete text of the Senators’ letter to Senate majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is available HERE.

Last week, the Senators introduced a bill to extend the following agriculture disaster programs to cover losses suffered by producers in 2012. 

  • Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments (SURE) program, which provides supplemental economic assistance for farmers affected by disasters
  • Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP), which compensates ranchers at a rate of 75 percent market value for livestock death losses caused by disasters
  • Livestock Forage Program (LFP), which assists ranchers who graze livestock on qualifying drought- or fire-affected pasture land
  • Emergency Livestock Assistance Program (ELAP), which compensates producers for disaster losses not covered under other disaster programs
  • Tree Assistance Program (TAP), which helps farmers who have suffered damage to perennial trees, bushes and vines that produce fruits and vegetables

State and county-level data is available HERE (click on ‘Payments by State for the 5 Disaster Programs’ at the bottom of the page).

These programs expired at the end of the 2011 fiscal year, leaving a gap in coverage for 2012.  The Senator’s one-year extension would provide certainty for American producers while Congress works to pass longer-term disaster coverage in the next Farm Bill. The Senate Farm Bill passed June 21, 2012. The Farm Bill is now awaiting action in the House.