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The following is a news release and
letter to the editor from the Illinois Farm Service Agency.
SPRINGFIELD -- What do agriculture, baseball and
Mother Nature have in common? Any farmer or rancher will tell you,
without hesitation, that in the competitive industry that is
agriculture, Mother Nature ALWAYS bats cleanup, and nine times out
of 10, she bats for the opposition -- she'll make or break you every
To date, crop year 2011 has been exceptionally tough for our
farmers and ranchers. That which isn't drying up from drought,
burning up in wildfires or blowing away in tornadoes is being swept
downstream by torrential flooding. It's an unfortunate reality that
somewhere in the U.S., this very minute, a farmer or rancher is
battling the elements -- and as most agricultural producers know all
too well... you win some and you lose some. So what happens when you
Prior to the 2008 farm bill, a row crop or livestock producer was
at the mercy of lawmakers to approve ad hoc funding for emergency
disaster assistance. It literally took an act of Congress for USDA's
Farm Service Agency to get much-needed recovery assistance to
producers affected by natural disasters. The process was tedious,
time-consuming and budget-dependent.
Fast forward to 2008 when Congress passed legislation providing
for five "permanent" disaster assistance programs -- the
Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payment Program, SURE; Livestock
Indemnity Program, LIP; Livestock Forage Disaster Program, LFP;
Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish
Program, ELAP; and the Tree Assistance Program, TAP -- all
administered by FSA.
So, how "permanent" is permanent? The truth is, these disaster
assistance programs are only "permanent" for the life of the 2008
farm bill. As of Sept. 30, the legislative authority for these five
programs expires and they will, in essence, cease to exist.
[to top of second column in this letter]
What does this mean to you, the producer?
It means that, although we hope a farmer or rancher never
requires disaster assistance, no industry is more vulnerable to
nature's wrath than agriculture, and the odds are, if you're in the
industry very long, you will indeed experience your fair share of
setbacks -- compliments of Mother Nature. Permanent disaster
legislation offers producers some peace of mind that, in time of
need, FSA can be immediately responsive.
To date, row crop and livestock producers nationwide have
received more than $2.9 billion in assistance from FSA for
qualifying losses resulting from natural disaster. These dollars
are, in turn, pumped back into the rural economy as producers
purchase inputs, hire contractors or procure whatever is necessary
to get back on their feet and back to the business of farming and
There's no doubt that, as Congress begins to craft the next farm
bill, disaster programs will be a significant topic of discussion.
The weather events of 2011 will be in the forefront of the minds of
lawmakers as they gather 'round the table to hash out future farm
The faster a producer recovers from a natural disaster, the
better for everyone -- including the consumer who can continue to
enjoy the abundant, safe and affordable food and fiber that we, as
Americans, have come to expect.
So, when it's bottom of the ninth, Mother Nature steps up to the
plate with bases loaded, and she knocks one out of the park, make
sure disaster assistance legislation is in place to level the
playing field. And, never forget... USDA's Farm Service Agency is
always on YOUR team.
Scherrie V. Giamanco
State Executive Director
Illinois Farm Service Agency
June 07, 2011]
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