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Disaster Aid Uncertain in Congress

Disaster Aid Uncertain in Congress
Dannebrog was over ran with flood water with recent rain and snow melt mixing to cause havoc in town. (Photo by Josh Salmon)

Disaster aid for states hit by flooding is more uncertain as Congress nears recess and ag lawmakers seem at odds over what producers need. Politico reports negotiations to pass a disaster relief package have collapsed just as another storm hits the Midwest and Great Plains, prompting blizzard warnings from Colorado to Minnesota. Midwest Senators are pushing for a disaster bill that includes $3 billion for flooding in 2019.

But, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson told reporters the Midwest doesn’t need billions in disaster aid like farmers in Southern states do. Peterson says the majority of crops or livestock damaged by flooding in Nebraska and Iowa were covered by crop insurance or are eligible for farm bill disaster programs, which isn’t the case for many Southern crops like pecan trees and peaches hit by last year’s hurricanes. Peterson says the only thing not covered in the Midwest is stored grain that was damaged.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told lawmakers this week USDA can assist in crafting language that would allow those farmers help. However, time to provide immediate assistance is running out as both chambers begin a two-week recess Friday.

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