Newswire

Cutting Disaster Programs Red Tape

Nebraska Farm Bureau is urging USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue to alleviate some of the bureaucratic red tape farm and ranch families are being asked to deal with in order to qualify for disaster assistance programs of importance farmers and ranchers impacted by the flooding and blizzards that hammered the state this winter and into early spring. In an April 25 letter Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson asked Secretary Perdue to review provisions of both the Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) and Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP).


April 23, 2019

 

The Honorable Sonny Perdue
Secretary of Agriculture
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Ave., S.W.
Washington, D.C.  20250

 

Dear Secretary Perdue,

On behalf of the nearly 60,000 member families of the Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation (NEFB), I am writing today to ask that USDA work to alleviate some of the bureaucratic hoops farm and ranch families are being asked to jump through in order to qualify for disaster assistance. The March flooding event, which devastated hundreds of thousands of acres in Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri, has taken its toll on our rural and urban communities. While we certainly understand that any request for federal assistance requires rules and accountability, we’ve identified a few specific areas where the waiving of certain requirements would be both appropriate and not unprecedented.   

As Nebraska farmers and ranchers work to repair fields and fencing, they have been directed to the Emergency Conservation Program to help cover a portion of those costs. While the program currently stands without funding, we have worked closely with the state and local leadership of USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to highlight the program as one worthy of examination. For those needing to make considerable repair to fields, outside of debris and sand removal, a requirement for a “Section 106” historical review could cause an extended delay of those necessary repairs. As spring planting season has arrived, Nebraska farmers cannot wait for the completion of a review which could extend beyond 30 days. While Nebraska FSA, NRCS, and our state Historical Society have worked to expedite this process, the significant number of reviews anticipated have the potential to overwhelm this process. Given the historic nature of this disaster, we would ask that this process be waived so that farmers and ranchers can get their land back into conditions necessary for spring planting in a timely fashion.

The other item we would ask you to review is the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP). Many Nebraska cattle producers saw their year’s supply of hay washed away in the flooding event. While it is our understanding the program covers grazing losses, clarification is needed to ensure baled hay would also qualify as an eligible loss. Whether or not grass is cut and rolled shouldn’t deter disaster assistance.

In closing Mr. Secretary, I want to let you know that your staff in Nebraska have done great work aiding farmers, ranchers, and rural communities during this difficult time. We appreciate all of their efforts and hope you will provide additional support by granting the aforementioned requests. Thank you for your consideration and for everything you continue to do for Nebraska farm and ranch families.

Sincerely,

Stephen D. Nelson
President  

 

CC:

The Honorable Deb Fischer
454 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Ben Sasse
107 Russell Senate Office Building 
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Jeff Fortenberry
1514 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Don Bacon
502 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Adrian Smith
1024 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

Nancy Johner
Nebraska State Executive Director
Farm Service Agency
United States Department of Agriculture
7131 A Street
Lincoln, NE 68510

What is your reaction?

Approve
0
Not Sure
0
Disapprove
0

You may also like