Senators Introduce One-Year Extension of Agriculture Disaster Assistance Programs Expired in 2011

(Washington, D.C.) – Senators Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) introduced legislation today to provide a one-year extension of agriculture disaster assistance programs that expired at the end of the 2011 Fiscal Year. As severe fires and drought threaten ranchers and farmers across the country, this extension will provide certainty for American producers while Congress works to pass the next Farm Bill.

“Montana ranchers and farmers are pitching in and helping each other out in the face of devastating fires and Congress needs to follow their lead,” Baucus said. “American farmers and ranchers put food on our tables every single day and they deserve the certainty and security of knowing we stand behind them when disaster strikes.”

"The SURE program and livestock disaster assistance programs are designed to give farmers and ranchers greater security when disaster strikes," Senator Conrad said. "I fought hard to include SURE in the 2008 Farm Bill, and I am pleased to join my colleagues in introducing this legislation.  This bill will cover crop and livestock losses in 2012 for North Dakota’s farmers and ranchers and other producers across the nation who are suffering as a result of weather related disasters."

“Conditions in Montana and around the country are as dry as I’ve seen them in a long time, and producers in Montana can’t wait for help in the Farm Bill.  I hear daily from farmers and ranchers dealing with fire and drought now.  We need to get this assistance on the ground as soon as possible,” Tester said.

“The ongoing drought is causing major problems in South Dakota and the disaster assistance programs included in this bill are crucial for our crop and livestock producers,” said Johnson. “We also reauthorize the livestock disaster programs in the Senate-passed version of the Farm Bill, but with the uncertainty surrounding passage of a new Farm Bill, this stand-alone legislation will ensure that producers have access to these worthy programs.”

Disaster Programs Extended Under Today’s Bill Include:

  • Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments (SURE) program, which provided crop insurance for farmers affected by disasters.
  • Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP), which compensates ranchers at a rate of 75 percent market value for livestock mortality 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.

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

Before these disaster programs, Congress provided support on an ad hoc basis and there was no standardized, reliable process for farmers and ranchers in need of assistance.

As members of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Baucus and Conrad worked to create the Livestock Disaster Assistance Program in the 2008 Farm Bill.  They included a provision in the Senate Farm Bill to extend the programs permanently and backfill the FY 2012 lapse in livestock disaster.  The Senate Farm Bill passed June 21, 2012. 

Legislative text of today’s bill is available HERE.