Congress has passed $19.1 billion in disaster aid for American and Puerto Rican farmers that need help recovering from flooding. But we Oklahomans aren’t going to see a dime of it.
On Monday, June 3, the United States House of Representatives passed House Resolution 2157, entitled the “Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act of 2019.” In passing the resolution, the House also included changes made to the legislation by the Senate.
The bill’s main goal is to help farmers and ranchers get back on their feet following flooding. According to data from the House, the resolution allocated $3 billion for crop and livestock losses, $558 million for the rehabilitation of farmland, $480 million for the restoration of forests, $150 million to be used to restore facilities in rural communities, and $435 million that will be used to improve watersheds and enact other flood-prevention measures. A total of $600 million in nutrition assistance will be given to Puerto Rico, and $304 million in Community Development Block Grants will also be given to that territory.
But according to Patrick Bond, communications director for Congressman Frank Lucas (R-Oklahoma), the bill passed by the House does not address damage caused by widespread flooding that left parts of Oklahoma submerged in May and June.
“I did want to clarify that while the disaster relief bill ... does address last year’s and this year’s flooding in the Midwest and Southeast United States, the flooding in Oklahoma happened too recently, and both state and federal officials are still evaluating exactly what type of assistance is needed,” Bond said in a statement. “The bill will not provide any aid for recent flooding in Oklahoma.”
That’s not pleasant news for Oklahoma farmers and ranchers, but that doesn’t mean they’ve been forgotten. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is currently working with other federal agencies to determine what type of assistance is needed in Oklahoma. Now, that could take a while, and it might not give affected producers everything they need, but it doesn’t mean they’ll get nothing. Even without the House resolution on their side, famers can still tap into different funding outlets to help make up for damaged crops and lost livestock.
The United States Department of Agriculture, in cooperation with the Farm Service Agency, makes emergency loans available to producers who need help recovering from a flood. A full list of loan options and other USDA resources can be found by visiting https://www.fsa.usda.gov/programs-and-services/disaster-assistance-program/. Also, livestock owners and contract growers who had higher-than-normal livestock deaths due to weather-related events may qualify for assistance through the FSA. Visit https://www.fsa.usda.gov/programs-and-services/disaster-assistance-program/livestock-indemnity/index for more information.
So, even though Oklahoma farmers and ranchers won’t be getting assistance from House Resolution 2157, there is still some help available for them. But will they ever get their own multi-billion-dollar aid package?
If they want one, they need to call their senators and representatives.
Bond left me with this: “I can assure you though, Rep. Lucas and the entire Oklahoma delegation are working tirelessly and coordinating with federal officials from numerous agencies and departments to provide whatever aid the people of Oklahoma are in need of.”
That’s a good promise. Let’s hold our leaders to it and make sure they don’t forget about the people who feed our country.
Here’s some helpful information on how to contact our guys up in D.C.
Senator Jim Inhofe can be reached at (405) 208-8841; Senator James Lankford can be reached at (405) 231-4941; and Representative Frank Lucas can be reached at (405) 373-1958.
This week, take time for a phone call, and make your voice heard. That’s the only way change can ever come. Let’s try to get an aid package for our own farmers and ranchers.