Western state lawmakers urge USDA to support more drought relief for producers
Western legislators led by Reps. Suzan DelBene, D-Wash., and Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., wrote to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Tuesday, urging USDA to provide additional relief to farmers and ranchers impacted by historic drought.
The letter also encourages USDA to work with Congress to provide technical assistance as lawmakers craft additional authorities and appropriations to address the 2020 and 2021 seasons that include wildfire, drought, and excessive heat-related losses.
“Although the extent of damages relating to the extreme heat has yet to be fully determined, agricultural producers expect these impacts to be severe,” the lawmakers wrote. “We respectfully request USDA explore all potential flexibilities for additional relief within existing programs and identify other options to deliver federal relief to producers in our states so they have the resources to overcome the extreme drought and heat crisis.”
The Agriculture Department’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) will authorize Approved Insurance Providers (AIPs) to extend deadlines for premium and administrative fee payments, defer and waive the resulting interest accrual and allow other flexibilities to help farmers and ranchers through widespread drought conditions.
Producers now have additional time to pay premium and administrative fees, and interest will be waived for 60 days or the termination date on the policy, whichever comes first. RMA also authorized AIPs to waive interest for an additional 60 days for Written Payment Agreements due between August 1 and September 30, 2021.
“Farmers and ranchers are weathering tough drought conditions this year, and we want to help ease the burden by extending payment deadlines and deferring interest accrual,” RMA Acting Administrator Richard Flournoy said. “USDA is using all of the tools in the toolbox to help producers amid the drought, including these crop insurance flexibilities.”
–The Hagstrom Report
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