Sen. Tuberville Urges Biden Admin to Help Farmers Impacted by Natural Disasters

WASHINGTON—This week, U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) joined colleagues in sending two letters opposing the slow rollout of the Biden Administration’s Emergency Relief Program (ERP 2022), which implemented payment limits that may harm producers who have undergone significant losses. Yesterday, Sen. Tuberville joined Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS) and colleagues in sending a bicameral letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack expressing their concerns about USDA’s methodology and implementation of ERP. Additionally, Sen. Tuberville joined Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND) in sending a letter to Comptroller General Dodaro requesting a Government Accountability Office (GAO) review of USDA’s ERP 2022 program.

According to the senators, the USDA’s ERP 2022 requirements are misguided and lose sight of the program’s intent outlined by Congress when it was created and over $3.7 billion allocated. The program’s purpose is to assist producers impacted by qualifying natural disasters in 2022 similarly to the first round of ERP and the previous Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP+). However, USDA has established requirements that have proved inadequate in helping farmers recover from natural disasters. By the USDA attaching excessive conditions to receive aid, this federal relief program could force farmers to wait even longer for assistance or completely jeopardize their ability to access the program.

“American producers have experienced significant losses, and the Administration has taken an approach that does not reflect Congressional intent. The current program does not provide needed assistance to full-time farm families that suffered the deepest losses, and in short, it misallocates limited but badly needed assistance,” the senators said in their letter.

“While this program is already unnecessarily delayed, it is still imperative that USDA depart from its current path because of the major problems raised by producers and Congress. USDA needs to follow the law and Congressional intent to address the crop losses of our farm families without the pay limits and without preferences that are not authorized by the statute,” the senators continued. “We strongly request the USDA abandon this current program and implement the framework of 2021 ERP Phase 1 as quickly as possible.”

Senators Tuberville and Marshall were joined in the letter to USDA by Senators Deb Fischer, Pete Ricketts, Cindy Hyde-Smith, James Lankford, John Cornyn, Ted Cruz, and many Members of the House of Representatives. Read the full letter to USDA here.

Senators Tuberville and Hoeven were joined in the letter to GAO by Senators John Boozman, Roger Marshall, Pete Ricketts, James Lankford, Cindy Hyde-Smith, Steve Daines, Kevin Cramer, and John Thune.