May 21, 2018

Farm Bill Issues; House Passes Ag Comm Bills; Food Safety; Trade; and Ag Economy

Disaster Aid

AP writer Mary Clare Jalonick reported yesterday that, “The Obama administration is making good on an election-year promise to Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln to give hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to farmers who lost crops due to weather.

“Many of the farmers eligible are in Arkansas and the Southeast. Lincoln, caught in a bruising race for re-election, has pushed for the aid, and she secured a promise from White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel in July that the money would be paid out. It took the Agriculture Department almost two months to figure out how to do it, since such disaster aid is usually subject to congressional approval.”

The article noted that, “Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Wednesday that the $630 million in disaster aid will come from a pot of money at USDA that is often used to supplement nutrition programs but is also designated to restore the purchasing power of farms. Vilsack said the aid to cotton, rice, soybean and sweet potato producers would do that. Also included are payments for poultry producers, a major industry in Arkansas, and fish farms, which also have a presence in the state.

The amount is about half of what Lincoln, the Democratic chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, had pushed for. It would go to 26 states and 1,000 counties, Vilsack pointed out, but the bulk of the cash will go to Southern farmers. All but two counties in Arkansas are eligible for assistance.”