Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, announced today that a bipartisan amendment to the 2012 Farm Bill that would help commercial fishermen obtain disaster relief loans has passed the full Senate late last night.
"On Long Island and across the country, fishing is a way of life and a major economic engine," said Senator Gillibrand. "Providing emergency relief to our Long Island commercial fishermen ensures that they have the same access to needed assistance that other farmers have when a natural disaster strikes."
This amendment, co-sponsored by Senators Gillibrand, John Kerry (D-MA), Lisa Murkowski (R-AL), Scott Brown (R-MA), Mark Begich (D-AL), and Joe Lieberman (I-CT), would expand existing Emergency Disaster Loan program to include commercial fishermen.
When a county has been declared a disaster area by either the President or the Secretary of Agriculture, agricultural producers in that county may become eligible for low-interest emergency disaster (EM) loans available through USDA's Farm Service Agency.
Under this amendment, the loans may be used to help eligible commercial fishermen, farmers, ranchers, and aquaculture producers who have suffered significant production or physical losses, such as repairing or replacing damaged or destroyed structures or equipment. These loans are discretionary and subject to annual appropriations or done through emergency supplemental appropriations.