ABC 7: Lawmakers author bipartisan bill to help disaster-stricken farmers

By Muna Sadek

A bipartisan group of lawmakers on Capitol Hill is working to bring some financial relief to farmers with the Agricultural Emergency Relief Act.

The measure, authored by Congressmen Doug LaMalfa and Mike Thompson, along with Senators Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla, would establish permanent disaster relief program for farmers who lost crops during natural disasters. Lawmakers say the federal government usually helps out farmers impacted by disasters but right now, there’s no permanent program in place, which has resulted in delays and administrative red tape.

Colleen Cecil, executive director of the Butte County Farm Bureau, said she’s in support of the measure noting that many Northstate farmers are still grappling with the financial after effects of wildfires and winter storms.

“There are farmers that are still waiting on payments from many seasons before and that has been the struggle with these disaster relief programs; They’re incredibly helpful and valuable to the farmers that actually utilize them. It is difficult to pay your bills when you don’t have a crop to sell and that’s where these programs become incredibly valuable,” she said.

The measure would permanently authorize the USDA’s Emergency Relief program, which would cover events like droughts, wildfires and winter storms. It would also require farmers who want financial aid to purchase crop insurance.

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