Amidst Drought, New Resources for Farmers, Ranchers
McCaskill: Unfolding disaster underscores need for U.S. House to get off the sidelines and pass the Farm Bill
July 23, 2012
WASHINGTON - As the U.S. Department of Agriculture today announced new resources for farmers and ranchers battling severe drought conditions, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill called on the House of Representatives to take action on the Farm Bill currently languishing after overwhelmingly passing the Senate last month.
"These new resources are a good step-but Missouri's farmers, ranchers, and rural families and businesses are facing the worst drought in half a century; meanwhile the House of Representatives is openly considering giving up on the Farm Bill that contains critical relief," said McCaskill, who was born in Rolla,, Mo. "I refuse to give up my fight for our rural communities. This unfolding disaster is threatening Missouri jobs and a Missouri way of life, and it's time for the U.S. House to get off the sidelines and pass this crucial legislation."
The Farm Bill passed by the Senate reauthorizes several critical agricultural disaster assistance programs that expired in 2011. These programs provide essential resources to producers faced with losses stemming from extreme weather events like the current drought.
Under today's announcement, more acres of land under the Conservation Reserve Program will be available for haying and grazing, to provide much needed feed to livestock-a specific request recently made by Missouri producers. Farmers and ranchers will also be able to modify current Environmental Quality Incentives Program contracts to allow for grazing, livestock watering facilities, water conservation, and other conservation activities to address drought conditions.
To help producers who may have cash flow problems due to natural disasters, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack is also encouraging crop insurance companies to voluntarily forego charging interest on unpaid crop insurance premiums for an extra 30 days, until November 1, for spring crops. Policy holders who are unable to pay their premiums in a timely manner accrue an interest penalty of 1.25 percent per month until payment is made. Additional information is available online, HERE.
McCaskill's call for action from the U.S. House comes as news outlets report that farmers and ranchers "are now experiencing the worst drought in decades. Programs authorized in the 2008 farm bill have expired and can't be reinstated unless the House approves a bill passed by the Senate. But House Republican leaders have not scheduled a vote."
The Farm Bill approved by the Senate reauthorizes essential disaster assistance programs, supports agriculture jobs, strengthens resources for family farms and ranches, and reduces the national deficit by more than $23 billion. The legislation-approved with a strong bipartisan vote of 64-35-also provides crucial resources that allow Missouri's crop producers to manage risk and new programs that help Missouri's dairy farmers to cope with high costs.
McCaskill's Fight for Missouri's Farmers and Ranchers
Claire McCaskill has consistently fought to ensure Missouri's farm and ranch families have the resources they need to succeed, and to prevent and overturn unreasonable rules and regulations on producers.
- McCaskill helped pass a bipartisan Farm Bill to support agriculture jobs, strengthen resources for family farms and ranches, and reduce the national deficit by more than $23 billion.
- McCaskill delivered a victory for rural communities, successfully forcing the U.S. Labor Department to withdraw proposed rules that would affect the ability of young adults to work on family farms and ranches.
- McCaskill helped lead a bipartisan group of Senators in successfully demanding an exemption to allow the transportation of all farm supplies from any distribution point to a local farm retailer or to the consumer during planning and harvest seasons.
- McCaskill confronted the Environmental Protection Agency in opposition to proposed rules over farm dust, forcing the EPA to abandon any such rules.
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