Disaster Aid Finally Passes Through the Senate

Senate Republicans and Democrats have come together on an agreement regarding a $19.1 billion disaster aid package. Agri-Pulse reports the aid was expanded to include payments to producers who can’t plant a crop this year. It also will include farmers whose stored commodities were damaged by flooding. Producers who lost crops to hurricanes and wildfires last year will also qualify for payments.

The Senate approved the bill 85-8 on Thursday, just before the Memorial Day recess. Passing the bill had been delayed months because of a battle between President Trump and Democrats over disaster funding for Puerto Rico. The battle also involved funding the president wanted for the southern border. Those funds were left out of the final bill. Most of the House had already left for the holiday weekend before the Senate passed the bill.

The combination of disaster payments and crop insurance benefits or Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program would be limited to 90 percent of a farmer’s loss. Disaster payments to farmers who don’t buy crop insurance will be limited to 70 percent of their loss. The disaster aid package also includes a provision making industrial hemp eligible for whole-farm insurance policies starting next year.

The disaster aid bill suffered a temporary setback in the US House on Friday when Texas Republican Chip Roy blocked a procedural move by Democrats to pass the Senate bill by unanimous consent. But the full House will be back in session after the holiday, on Tuesday and will likely have the votes then to send the bill to the president, who plans to reluctantly sign it.