Baucus, Tester announce disaster assistance for Montana ranchers and farmers

Senators Call USDA Decision “A Big Step in the Right Direction”

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Montana U.S. Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester are calling the Department of Agriculture’s disaster designation for Treasure County critical for Montana farmers and ranchers. The Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced this week its declaration of an agricultural disaster triggering the release of Farm Service Agency emergency loans and the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments (SURE) to affected producers.

“Agriculture is the heart of Montana's economy and critical to our rural way of life. When disaster strikes, it’s important we give our hardworking Ag producers the tools they need to pull through,” said Baucus, who wrote a permanent disaster assistance trust fund into the Farm Bill. “Our farmers should not have to travel back to Washington to ask for help every time they face a natural disaster.”

“It’s been a rough year for some of Montana’s farmers and ranchers,” Tester said.  “For those of us with our hands in the dirt, the weather is out of our control.  But it is in our control to provide much needed resources to the folks who are the backbone of Montana’s economy.  This declaration is good news for those folks.”

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack issued the natural disaster declaration on September 15, 2010 in response to severe storms with excessive rain, high winds, and hail that occurred from July 1, through July 2, 2010. Vilsack noted the USDA determined that there were sufficient production losses in the region. The benefits will also be available for Yellowstone, Big Horn and Rosebud Counties.

In the summer of 2008, Baucus and Tester helped write and pass a new Farm Bill to help Montana’s farmers and ranchers.  The legislation includes a Disaster Assistance Trust Fund provision, which finances five programs that comprehensively address agricultural disasters across the nation.

Baucus and Tester received the National Farmers Union’s highest legislative honor this week when they were named “Golden Triangle Award” recipients. The annual award is presented to members of Congress who have demonstrated leadership on issues relevant to America’s family farmers, ranchers, fishermen and rural communities.