Travel issues prevented Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue from taking part in a disaster roundtable organized by U.S. senator Deb Fischer at the Nebraska State Fair August 23, but it didn’t stop Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson, Sen. Fischer, Congressman Adrian Smith, Governor Pete Rickets, Nebraska Director of Agriculture Steve Wellman, and other federal and state officials from discussing disaster related issues.
In remarks, President Nelson shared appreciation for the work of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, FSA, and NRCS personnel in dealing with the large workload throughout Nebraska disaster recovery efforts. He also pointed to the importance of flexibility in disaster assistance programs.
Among the feedback Nebraska Farm Bureau received from producers working through disaster recovery were that the section 106 historical review requirements slowed down efforts to repair and reshape water-cut fields damaged by floodwaters. Nelson also pointed out that producers and local FSA officials alike would like to see the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees, and Farm-raised Fish (ELAP) program offer coverage on lost hay supplies.
In sharing ways to improve future disaster efforts, Nelson noted that while USDA disaster assistance programs cover a wide range of disaster/adverse weather situations especially drought, coverage seems to be lacking for excess water/precipitation that prohibits the harvesting of needed hay and that Farm Bureau would be ready to help whatever process is required to close the coverage gap.
Nelson also noted the importance of crop insurance covering crop losses associated with the Gering-Ft. Laramie-Goshen Canal Tunnel Collapse.