Tillis, Padilla Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Improve Access to Federal Agricultural Disaster Relief
Senators Thom Tillis and Alex Padilla (D-CA) recently introduced bipartisan legislation to improve access to federal agriculture disaster programs. The Fair Access to Agriculture Disaster Programs Act would waive the adjusted gross income (AGI) restriction on producers who derive 75 percent of their income from farming, ranching, or related farming practices from receiving USDA disaster program relief.
“North Carolina farmers are all too familiar with natural disasters and the barriers to access disaster relief programs,” said Senator Tillis. “I am proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation to expand access to critical disaster relief programs for farmers across the state and give them the tools to rebuild when disaster strikes.”
Catastrophic floods, fires, freezes, and other disasters are disrupting food production and devastating farms across the country, but outdated AGI eligibility requirements disproportionately exclude certain producers from meaningfully participating in USDA disaster programs. The USDA currently prohibits payments to growers with combined farm and nonfarm AGI in excess of $900,000 for most disaster, commodity, and conservation programs, excluding North Carolina growers — large and small — who produce higher value specialty crops on expensive land.
These AGI limitations fail to account for high input costs or inflation, and leave producers without access to critical safety net programs in the wake of disasters. The unique methods utilized in specialty crop production mean these producers generally have fewer effective risk management and relief options than growers of major field crops.
Specifically, the Fair Access to Agriculture Disaster Programs Act waives the AGI limitation for the following disaster programs: Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP), Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP), Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP), Tree Assistance Program (TAP), and Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP).
The legislation is endorsed by the North Carolina Farm Bureau, National Aquaculture Association, North Carolina Shellfish Growers Association, Shellfish Growers of Virginia, East Coast Shellfish Growers Association, Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance, Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association, and American Honey Producers Association.
A one-pager of the bill is available here.
Full text of the bill is available here.