Thune and Klobuchar urge USDA to improve disaster assistance to producers

U.S. Senators John Thune (RS.D.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), members of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee, today led several of their colleagues to ask the Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack addresses implementation issues with the Emergency Relief Program (ERP), which helps growers offset the impacts of natural disasters in 2020 and 2021.

“USDA’s work in implementing ERP to help farmers and ranchers who suffered disaster-related losses in 2020 and 2021 has been meaningful for producers nationwide,” said the senators. “We appreciate your efforts to streamline the process by allowing the Farm Service Agency to use data already registered with the Risk Management Agency, which has been helpful in speeding up the process. We are writing to bring to your attention the issues with the ERP implementation and to request that the USDA resolve these issues promptly.

The letter was also signed by US Sens. Kevin Cramer (RN.D.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), John Hoeven (RN.D.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.).

Full letter below:

The Honorable Tom Vilsack

secretary

United States Department of Agriculture

1400 Independence Avenue, Southwest

Washington, D.C. 20250

Dear Secretary Vilsack:

The work of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in implementing the Emergency Relief Program (ERP) to assist farmers and ranchers who suffered disaster-related losses in 2020 and 2021 has been significant for the country’s producers. We appreciate your efforts to streamline the process by allowing the Farm Service Agency (FSA) to use data already registered with the Risk Management Agency (RMA), which has been helpful in speeding up the process. We are writing to bring to your attention the issues with the ERP implementation and to ask the USDA to resolve them promptly.

The first issue involves many growers who, because their cause of loss was traced to a 2019 event, have impeded factory allowances that were not entered as part of the ERP to receive top-up payments. , even if farmers with losses due to the same cause of loss were made eligible. because the loss was attributed to a 2020 event. It is important to note that this was not an intentional misrepresentation by the adjusters. Rather, it was a situation where there was no uniform guidance on how to allocate losses that may have occurred over a long period of time or resulted from a number of events. It is important that these qualifying losses are correctly captured in the USDA’s second generation ERP Phase I application letters.

The second issue relates to how certain producers’ adjusted gross income is calculated in order to qualify for the higher payment limit under the program. Generally, under the law, producers who derive 75% or more of their adjusted gross income from farming are eligible for the higher limit. However, we understand that there are some issues with the implementation of this rule. Sales of farm equipment would have to be considered part of adjusted gross operating income in order to meet the 75% rule, which they currently are not without also meeting a whole other set of requirements. We understand that an update to the FSA handbook could clarify things to ensure this is resolved, and we urge you to make that update.

Additionally, producers who derive 75% or more of their income from agriculture but have suffered a loss in overall adjusted gross income are expected to be covered by the 75% test using reflective measures, such as gross receipts , to ensure that these producers receive the increased payment limit. as well.

Finally, we heard that producers who have purchased supplemental crop insurance, such as the supplemental coverage option, must wait until the fall to receive ERP assistance, while many producers who do not have subscribed to additional crop insurance may have already received their ERP assistance. We urge you to consider accelerating ERP support to those growers who have purchased additional coverage so as not to discourage their decision to purchase higher levels of coverage, which should be encouraged.

Thank you once again for all your work in delivering ERP to our farmers and ranchers and for your consideration of our requests.

Sincerely,

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