House Ag Approves WHIP Reauthorization Bill

The House Agriculture Committee Tuesday approved the WHIP+ Reauthorization Act that would extend the disaster assistance program to 2020 and 2021.The legislation, passed on a voice vote, provides $8.5 billion in additional assistance through the Wildfire and Hurricanes Indemnity Program.

Originally for natural disasters in 2017, lawmakers expanded assistance to 2018 and 2019, now seeking further expansion to cover more recent losses caused by natural disasters.

Committee Chair David Scott says the legislation is extraordinarily important.

“We got wildfires that are just devastating our nation. We see it, it’s unbelievable, unimaginable. And we are timing this bill at a very, very opportune time. Because the nation sees so much of our land and our forestry burning up with these wildfires, but we hope today that they will see us as a House Agriculture Committee addressing this problem with the severity and intensity that this problem deserves.” 

Doug LaMalfa, a republican from California, told the committee drought conditions in his state is a national problem.

“The drought in general, obviously for agriculture in California, it’s really on its knees right now, because so much of our ag lands have been curtailed from halfway normal allotment to even zero. A lot of people say well okay this means less farmers in California, but the crops that we grow are unique, at least 12 crops have grown in California, 99 percent of the nation’s us come from our state. So, the drought there, and the lack of water storage that we haven’t built a long time, added to in a long time, really is a factor for all Americans.” 

The bill covers the western drought, the 2021 polar vortex in Texas, along with the 2020 derecho in Iowa.