U.S. Senate blesses bill earmarking funds for farm freeze, heat relief

Federal disaster relief for farmers impacted by freeze and heat-struck crops and livestock in 2006 and 2007 is one step closer to fruition following the U.S. Senate’s passage of a fiscal year ’07 supplemental appropriations bill on March 29.

The $4.151 billion package includes an array of assistance including emergency farm relief for farmers across the country, including millions in assistance for farmers impacted by extreme heat and cold that hit in ’06 and ‘07. The bill also provides assistance for farm workers left unemployed as a result of the freeze.

“California’s citrus and dairy industries have suffered enormous crop and livestock losses in recent years from severe weather incidents,” said Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif. “But the Senate has now approved millions of dollars of relief to help these struggling farmers and dairymen recover from the financial setbacks they have endured because (of) these natural disasters.”

According to Sen. Feinstein’s website, the agricultural breakdown includes:

- $2.09 billion for crop loss compensation nationwide for disasters from ’05 to ’07. Farmers would apply to the Farm Service Agency for compensation;

- $1.498 billion for livestock loss compensation nationwide for disasters from ’05 to ’07;

- $100 million for small business and farm worker assistance nationwide;

- $95 million for California milk production losses due to the ’06 heat wave; and

< - $40 million for farmers to rehabilitate or replace trees impacted by the ’07 freeze.

The House passed its own supplemental bill on March 23. The two legislative versions now head to conference committee for reconciliation work.

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