New policies to help hard-hit agricultural areas
By Summit Voice
The federal government has stepped up aid for drought-stricken parts of the country to help farmers and ranchers recover from the worst dry spell since the Dust Bowl of the1 930s.
The relief includes availability of about $16 million for financial and technical assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to immediately help crop and livestock producers, as well as making 1,000 credit unions eligible for a low-income designation, which permits unlimited lending to small-business owners including farmers.
A U.S. Department of Agriculture transfer of $14 million in unobligated program funds into the Emergency Conservation Program will assist in moving water to livestock in need, providing emergency forage for livestock, and rehabilitating lands severely impacted by the drought.
The USDA will also allow farmers to apply this year’s crop indemnity payments toward their crop insurance premiums for the following crop year and have worked with the 16 major providers of crop insurance to drop interest charges on unpaid premiums through November.
Lowering interest rate on emergency loans will help producers recover from production and physical losses associated with natural disasters.
U.S. Senator Mark Udall (D-Colo.) thanked President Obama for developing and implement the measures.
“These policies will bring some relief to Coloradans coping with our nation’s ongoing severe drought. I am glad to see President Obama leverage the full might of the federal government to help Colorado’s farmers and ranchers weather this exceptionally severe drought,” Udall said.
“Although this is a start, the severity of the drought underlines why the U.S. House of Representatives needs to pass the 2012 Farm Bill, which has received bipartisan support in the U.S. Senate and House Agriculture Committee. We need to provide long-term, sustainable relief to the farmers and ranchers who comprise America’s breadbasket,” Udall said.
Udall has been pushing for drought relief, earlier this year signing a bipartisan letter to President Obama urging him to convene an Interagency Drought Task Force to address the impacts of drought. Udall also has urged the U.S. House of Representatives to pass the 2012 Farm Bill, which contains drought-relief provisions for Colorado’s farmers and ranchers.