At least 22 House members have introduced legislation to extend USDA's Emergency Relief Program for natural disasters in 2022.
Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., and Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., along with Rep. Jim Costa, D-Calif., and Jimmy Panetta, D-Calif., as well as Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, introduced the bill along with 17 other House members. The bill would simply reauthorize the program and appropriate funds as necessary. The bill is backed by the National Farmers Union.
The Emergency Relief Program (ERP) is USDA's latest ad-hoc disaster program, funded by $10 billion last year to pay for disasters in 2020 and 2021. ERP replaced the WHIP-Plus program.
USDA has created a payment dashboard showing the department had processed 257,500 ERP applications and made $6.2 billion in payments.
Newhouse said, ""The Emergency Relief Program is a necessary resource for Central Washington farmers as they continue to recover from this year's late spring, which significantly impacted tree fruit production. I am pleased to introduce this legislation and encourage my colleagues to support this important program that will provide much-needed assistance to Central Washington's growers so they can continue producing the high-quality Washington crops Americans enjoy for many years to come."
Costa, a senior member of the House Agriculture Committee, said, "The Emergency Relief Program is critical to farmers in my district, providing them the assistance they need to recover from the ongoing impacts of the drought and wildfires. I am proud to introduce this bipartisan bill to provide much-needed relief to California farmers and ranchers. Supporting and advocating for California agriculture has always been one of my highest priorities, representing California as the number one agricultural state in the nation."
Axne said few Iowa farmers have seen a need for disaster aid in 2022, but the year is not over. The 2020 derecho, after all, hit on Aug. 10, 2020. Axne had gone against her party leadership to vote for disaster aid afterward.
"Iowa farmers know all too well how common and devastating natural disasters have been," Axne said. "The Emergency Relief Program, which I fought hard for, has provided assistance to thousands of Iowan farmers who suffered from the 2020 derecho. By reauthorizing the Emergency Relief Program for 2022, this bill provides certainty to farmers that should disaster strike, assistance will be ready."
USDA's payment dashboard shows more than $1 billion has been paid out in North Dakota, followed by $775 million in Texas, and nearly $488 million in South Dakota as the top states for aid payments so far. Corn, soybeans, wheat and cotton are the largest commodities for payments. Another $601 million has been paid out for livestock losses.
USDA also has extended the deadline indefinitely for producers to return its pre-filled applications for phase one of ERP.
More details on ERP can be found at https://www.fsa.usda.gov/…
ERP payment dashboard: https://www.fsa.usda.gov/…
Chris Clayton can be reached at Chris.Clayton@dtn.com
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