Disaster $$$ Approved by Senate

Good news for farmers who suffered crop losses from weather-related disasters came March 10 when the U.S. Senate passed Sen. Blanche Lincoln’s (D-AR) agriculture disaster aid package. Following are the details that appeared in a press release from the Senator’s office. Although the press release is tailored to Lincoln’s Arkansas constituents, remember that “the legislation would provide an estimated $1.1 billion in supplemental payments to producers [not just in Arkansas] who suffered crop losses in counties declared ‘primary’ disaster areas by USDA.”

Lincoln Agriculture Disaster Aid Passed by Senate

Washington – U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry today said Arkansas farmers affected by weather-related disasters are one step closer to receiving relief. The U.S. Senate today approved Lincoln’s $1.5 billion disaster package as part of the Tax Extenders Act of 2009.
“Our farmers provide the safest, most affordable, most abundant food supply in the world. We cannot afford to see them forced out of business because of weather conditions out of their control. This will provide the relief producers need to stay in business, saving jobs right here in Arkansas,” Lincoln said.
“The disaster assistance bill will provide significant help to those Arkansas producers who suffered devastating weather and disastrous crop harvests in 2009. Direct crop losses for cotton, cottonseed, corn, rice, soybeans, sorghum and grass hay in Arkansas were estimated by UA Division of Agriculture economists to have been $400 million. This direct loss reverberated through the Arkansas economy with a reduction of employment of 3,700 and lost wages of $102 million. Value-added activities, such as reductions in crop processing and reduced household spending, were reduced by an additional $202 million,” said Dr. Eric Wailes, L.C. Carter Endowed Chair Professor of Agricultural Economics, University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture.
In Arkansas, agriculture provides more than 270,000 jobs and contributes more than $9 billion each year to the state’s economy.
“Farmers need certainty to make planning decisions for the planting season. While previous efforts to pass disaster assistance have taken nearly 3 years, this package is based on bipartisan legislation I introduced just over 3 months ago. As the legislative process continues, I will work closely with my colleagues in Congress to ensure producers will receive this relief in a timely manner,” Lincoln said.
The legislation would provide an estimated $1.1 billion in supplemental payments to producers who suffered crop losses in counties declared “primary” disaster areas by USDA.
Also included is $300 million to assist specialty crop producers, $75 million in emergency loans to poultry producers, $50 million in assistance for livestock producers, $25 million in aquaculture assistance and $42 million to aid first handlers of cottonseed.

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