Congressman John Tierney's proposed amendment to the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management (FARRM) Act to make commercial fishermen eligible for the U.S Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) Emergency Disaster Loan program was narrowly defeated today. The final vote tally was 211 to 215.
"Despite convincing 23 Republicans to vote in support of my amendment, we ran up against the real consequences of the Ryan Republican Budget and Sequestration. With deep cuts to federal programs being implemented, many Republicans are refusing to both restore funding for them and give our struggling commercial fishermen the same opportunity to apply for emergency disaster loans as farmers and ranchers. Fortunately, a similar amendment, introduced by Senator Cowan, was included in the Senate's version of the farm bill, and with this close vote in the House, I am hopeful it will be retained in the House and Senate conference report," Tierney said.
"The defeat of this small but important amendment also shows how difficult it will be to make progress on providing urgently needed financial assistance for the fishing industry and responsibly reforming the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Yet, my like-minded colleagues from both parties and I will not be deterred. Even in the face of significant opposition by many House Republicans, we will keep fighting for our fishermen and their families," Tierney concluded.
Quite simply, the Tierney amendment would have amended the USDA's Emergency Disaster Loan program to allow commercial fishermen to apply. The amendment would not have prioritized fishermen over farmers or ranchers or anyone else who is currently eligible for the USDA's program. It only sought to give fishermen a fair shot at obtaining an emergency loan.