November 9, 2007
November 9, 2007 - As the U.S. Senate began its discussions on the 2007 Farm Bill this week, much work was done by agricultural groups to assure that elected officials understand where this community stands on issues.
The 2007 Farm Bill presents an opportunity to establish a predictable program for future disasters. While ad hoc assistance has always been appreciated for weather-related disasters that occur across the country, 52 national and state associations, including the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI), signed a letter supporting the Supplemental Disaster Assistance Program and opposed any efforts during floor consideration to redirect funds away from the disaster program.
According to the Congressional Research Service, 34 ad hoc disaster packages have been approved since fiscal year 1989, totaling $59 billion. Each approved measure requires the U.S. Department of Agriculture to recreate an implementation plan that often results in new guidelines and sign-up requirements. A standing disaster program will ensure a consistent and reliable implementation strategy is in place for any future weather-related disaster. Furthermore, the program works in concert with current risk management programs, such as crop insurance and the Non Insured Assistance Program, by requiring producers to purchase coverage and providing an incentive to purchase higher levels of coverage.
Many have, in the past, expressed strong support of ad hoc disaster assistance but have witnessed the increasing difficulty in securing help. Earlier this year, Congress approved emergency ad hoc disaster assistance for losses that occurred in 2005, 2006 or 2007. Unfortunately, the assistance is just now reaching producers for losses sustained in 2005.
"Procuring a reliable, timely disaster assistance program to assist producers who have been affected by weather-related disasters is an ASI priority," said Peter Orwick, executive director of ASI. "This disaster assistance program gives the industry a blueprint of what can be expected in the event of a disaster." Staff contact: Peter Orwick, ext. 33