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Certainty For Nebraskans


Location: Unknown

The Senate this summer has taken several important steps to provide Nebraskans with the tools they need to address weather-related disasters. When Mother Nature throws us a curveball, we need appropriate risk management tools to adapt quickly. I'm pleased to report the Senate has passed a couple bills to help address these situations. First of course is the farm bill, but also of importance is the reauthorization of the flood insurance program included in last month's transportation bill.

Though today many producers are battling drought conditions, the memories of last summer's flooding are still fresh across the state. In fact, this summer's drought only serves to remind us further how suddenly the weather can change and the necessity of preparedness. The five-year flood insurance renewal will help Nebraskans in the short-term as well as the long-term.

To address short-term problems lingering from last summer, I included language specifically addressing last year's flooding of the Missouri River and other Nebraska waterways. Importantly, the bill retroactively removes arbitrary deadlines for the purchase of flood insurance while continuing to require personal responsibility. Anyone who bought insurance a month or more before their property was damaged will receive the promised benefit of the policy's coverage.

In the long-term, the bill will help make sure we don't get caught off guard by any future flooding. It adds explicit detail to the legal definition of a flood, as well as directing a review of the procedures used to determine when an area is classified as flood-stricken. Further, the bill creates new incentives for purchasing insurance, with the goal of getting those in at-risk areas signed up for flood insurance so they have coverage when they need it, protecting both homeowners and taxpayers.

Additionally, the Senate passed a new five-year farm bill which gives much-needed certainty for Nebraska agriculture. As we all know, the weather can change with the dawning of a new day, which in turn can affect an entire season's worth of crops or livestock. The risk management tools in the farm bill provide some stability for those who produce our food and fiber without encouraging dependency on the federal government or increasing the burden on the federal budget.

Gone are the days in which farmers receive federal dollars just because they farm, and that's a good thing. Today's crop insurance program, in which farmers and ranchers put skin in the game by paying insurance premiums and receiving help only when they need it, works better for producers and serves as a much wiser use of taxpayer dollars.

These changes make sense for who we are today and where we're going as a country. We must be responsible with every dollar spent. These legislative changes take us in that direction, and I was happy to help advance them. The President signed the flood insurance bill into law last Friday, while the farm bill is being considered by the House Agriculture Committee.

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