WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Thursday, U.S. Representatives from several southern states issued the below statements upon introducing bipartisan legislation which would provide an additional $1.5 billion in disaster assistance for agricultural producers impacted by 2018 and 2019 natural disasters.
“Last October, Hurricane Michael ripped through Georgia, leaving billions of dollars in agricultural damages in its wake. For months, Rep. Sanford Bishop and I fought for aid for agricultural producers in Georgia and across the country to help put the pieces back together again. Unfortunately, the share of assistance will be used for future storms without the allocation of additional resources. That’s why I introduced the bipartisan WHIP Extension Act (H.R.4496), which would reprogram unused funds for 2017 natural disasters into the WHIP+ program to assist farmers that were impacted by storms in 2018 and 2019,” said Rep. Austin Scott.
“Secretary Perdue has the monumental task of rebuilding agricultural economies across the Southeast after two devastating hurricane seasons. We in Congress need to ensure he has the flexibility to use any unused resources available. I’m grateful to partner with Rep. Austin Scott and other members across the country to help get the job done,” said Rep. Neal Dunn.
“Farmers in South Carolina and across the country are facing unprecedented challenges as they recover from recent natural disasters. This common-sense legislation will provide relief to the agriculture community by allowing farmers to access resources that have already been appropriated for agriculture losses,” said Rep. Tom Rice.
“North Carolina farm families continue to reel from recent hurricanes,” said Rep. David Rouzer. “It makes no sense for funding appropriated for previous disasters to be sitting idly by – untouchable – when there is a real need. This is commonsense legislation that will enable these funds to be used for damages directly related to Hurricane Florence.”
In 2018, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) created the 2017 Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program (WHIP) to assist agricultural producers impacted by natural disasters from 2017, including wildfires in California and other western states and Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.
On September 9, USDA announced more than $3 billion in aid for agricultural producers impacted by natural disasters from 2018 and 2019 through the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP+). H.R.4496 would move nearly $1.5 billion in leftover 2017 WHIP money into the new WHIP+ program to provide greater resources for farmers impacted by 2018 and 2019 storms. Farmers who suffered losses from Hurricane Michael would be eligible for these increased resources, as well as blueberry and peach growers that were impacted by Tropical Storm Cindy’s extreme cold.
Cosponsors of H.R.4496 include U.S. Representatives Neal Dunn (R-FL-02), Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI-02), Josh Harder (D-CA-10), Tom Rice (R-S.C.-07), Martha Roby (R-AL-02), David Rouzer (R-N.C.-07), Ted Yoho (R-FL-03), and Don Young (R-AK-AL).