WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman G. K. Butterfield (NC-01) was joined by the entire North Carolina Democratic delegation today to introduce H.R. 3740, the Farmers Disaster Assistance Act of 2011, to provide speedier disaster assistance to farmers, who are often forced to wait several months to a year to receive relief following damages to their crops. Representatives Brad Miller (NC-13), Mel Watt (NC-12), Heath Shuler (NC-11), Larry Kissell (NC-08), Mike McIntyre (NC-07), and David Price (NC-04) are all original cosponsors of the bill.
“Farmers often operate on shoestring budgets with tight margins and limited cash flow,” said Butterfield. “If farmers are unable to go to market due to crop losses, and it takes several months to receive a Supplemental Revenue Assistance payment or insurance, then they cannot pay employees, purchase new equipment, or prepare for the next growing season.”
Congress has provided supplemental disaster assistance to farmers for almost every crop season between 1988 and 2007. Although the changes made in the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 were meant to eliminate this necessity, problems remain with the current disaster assistance program. As such, this bill would alleviate some of the financial strain felt by farmers who are located in federally-declared disaster counties and experienced major crop losses this year.
Butterfield authored the bill in response to the devastation caused to the agriculture community by Hurricane Irene and the April 16 tornadoes. Combined, both disasters cost upwards of $350 million in crop losses for North Carolina and another $14 million in losses for agricultural facilities and equipment. In addition to direct assistance for crop losses, the bill would loosen Farm Service Agency lending restrictions in disaster counties.