Farmers and ranchers enduring billions of dollars in losses need Congress to pass disaster assistance immediately. Critical disaster funding remains stalled in Congress as losses continue to rise. The Senate has just rejected two versions of a bill that would send funding to the Department of Agriculture to assist producers affected by natural disasters in 2018 and 2019. R.J. Karney, American Farm Bureau Federation congressional relations director, says lawmakers are at odds over humanitarian relief for Puerto Rico.
“The House of Representatives has passed a supplemental disaster assistance bill. In the Senate, the bill is currently stalled. There’s disagreements amongst Republicans and Democrats with regards to the amount of funding allocation for Puerto Rico.”
The House bill does not include the expanded disaster assistance added by the Senate. Karney says AFBF supports both the inclusion of funds for disaster recovery in 2018 and 2019 and the efforts to help Puerto Rico with a humanitarian crisis. Meanwhile, losses in the Midwest are expected to rise.
“Losses total more than $8 billion between the catastrophic weather events that occurred in 2018 and 2019. The flooding in the Midwest, those assessments are still underway, and we expect that total number to increase.”
Karney says lawmakers need to put their differences aside and pass a disaster assistance bill.
“Farm Bureau calls on Congress and the White House to support farmers, ranchers and rural communities that have been impacted by these catastrophic weather events and move past this political impasse. Discussions continue across the chambers and with the White House on a proposal that will be able to pass both the House and Senate”
It also needs to be something that will be signed into law by the President.