Ag News

U.S. House passes disaster assistance bill

On May 10 the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 2157, the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2019.

The bill, which was approved by a 257-150 vote, would provide $19.1 billion in supplemental funds for damage resulting from a variety of natural disasters, including Hurricane Michael, that occurred in 2018 and 2019.

The USDA would have access to a total of $3.76 billion of these funds, including $480 million to the Farm Service Agency and $125 million to the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

At press time the bill awaited a vote in the Senate. A major stumbling block for disaster aid has been whether to include additional funding for Puerto Rico’s recovery from Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017. Senate leaders had reached an agreement on aid for Puerto Rico and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) indicated he would bring a disaster relief bill to a vote before Congress leaves for its Memorial Day recess, according to published reports.

Georgia Reps. Rick Allen (R-12th District), Sanford Bishop (D-2nd District), Buddy Carter (R-1st District), Hank Johnson (D-4th District), John Lewis (D-5th District), Lucy McBath (D-6th District), Austin Scott (R-8th District) and David Scott (D-13th District) voted in favor of H.R. 2157.

Georgia Farm Bureau has consistently urged members of Congress to provide funding to help Georgia farmers recover from Hurricane Michael, which caused approximately $2.5 billion in damage, devastating numerous farms in Southwest Georgia. Many farms were days or weeks from harvest when Michael struck on Oct. 10, 2018, wiping out row crops, pecan orchards and timber stands and mangling chicken houses, farm buildings and destroying farm equipment. Michael’s damage exceeded $5.5 billion across multiple southern states.

GFB leaders visited Washington in early May and one of their key messages was that the state’s farmers are struggling and federal government help is needed as quickly as possible.