The National Cotton Council expressed appreciation to Congress and the Administration for their support and approval of long-awaited and much-needed disaster and recovery assistance for farmers devastated by Hurricanes Florence, Michael and other natural disasters in 2018 and early 2019.
The supplemental disaster assistance package passed by the House, and approved by the Senate on May 23, includes more than $3.0 billion in assistance for lost crops – most of which will be administered through the Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program (WHIP) that was used in response to 2017 hurricane losses. However, the bill contains some important enhancements to WHIP, including assistance for prevented planted acres.
The President is expected to sign the bill, allowing USDA to begin the implementation and sign-up process.
An initial summary of the bill’s agriculture provisions can be found on the NCC website.
NCC Chairman Mike Tate, a north Alabama cotton producer, said this relief will be a big help to farmers who are trying to restore their operations, including cotton producers in several southeastern states whose ready-to-harvest cotton was hammered by hurricanes in 2018.
“Now, we urge USDA to get this assistance to the affected farmers as soon as possible,” Tate stated. “The livelihoods of farm families and the economic health of rural communities are at stake.”
For their continuous negotiations to reach agreement among Congress and the President, Tate commended Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Senators David Perdue (R-GA), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Doug Jones (D-AL), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Richard Burr (R-NC), Lindsay Graham (R-SC) and Tim Scott (R-SC), along with John Hoeven (R-ND), who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Agriculture Subcommittee.
Tate also thanked Sanford Bishop (D-GA), who chairs the House Appropriations Committee’s Agriculture Subcommittee, and Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA), along with Reps. Rick Allen (R-GA), Martha Roby (R-AL), Neal Dunn (R-FL), David Rouzer (R-NC), James Clyburn (D-SC) and Tom Rice (R-SC) for their initiative and leadership in making passage of this legislation a priority.
Early in 2019, the NCC joined a coalition of other agricultural groups – including numerous state and regional cotton organizations – to urge a unified effort by Congress to approve disaster relief legislation. That coalition continued its persistent effort with the support of local farm credit associations, community banks, and other farm and commodity organizations.
Based on information provided by the National Cotton Council