This week has been one of arguing, political posturing, and some treading of water in Washington, to be sure. But I promised you I would update you on the legislation Congressman Sam Graves and I were working on -- and I want to do just that.
Amidst the discord on many issues on Capitol Hill this week, Congressman Graves and I stayed the course and introduced our bill to provide agriculture disaster relief.
H.R. 1454 was designed to help area farmers, ranchers, and producers recover from last year's drought, and put back in place the important supplemental agriculture disaster assistance that is desperately needed. We both believe the alliance between rural and urban legislators needs to be strong to make sure our constituents are represented in the way they expect -- and most certainly deserve.
The livestock industry is critically important to Missouri's economic health and well-being. And cattle farmers and other livestock producers have been hit hard by last year's historic drought.
We hope this legislation will not only provide relief in our districts, but help drive leadership to action on getting a long-term, long-overdue, long-necessary farm bill in place.
"Constituents from my district and across the state of Missouri have been contacting my office over the last year asking when disaster assistance for livestock would be restored by Congress," said Congressman Graves. "They have been waiting on a farm bill to help restore the exhausted disaster assistance funds but Congress has failed to act. That is why I have joined with my good friend Congressman Cleaver to introduce this bipartisan bill that will help the livestock industry recover from last year's drought."
The bill would extend disaster assistance to programs that expired in October of 2011 and make funds available for Fiscal Year 2012-2013. It would extend 4 of the 5 USDA disaster programs that were created in the 2008 Farm Bill. The authorization for these programs expired in October of 2011. They were reauthorized in legislation this past January, but they were not given specific funding levels.
This legislation includes changes in the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP), the Livestock Forage Program (LFP), Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Bees, & Farm-raised Fish (ELAP), the Tree Assistance Program (TAP), and fruit losses from 2012 freezes in the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP).
Our hope is, with this legislation, we can keep necessary and important safety net programs in place, we can make sure they are accessible to those who need them, and we can help lead Congress to act on a Farm Bill.