Udall Welcomes Push to Provide Flexibility in Conservation and Crop Insurance Programs During Ongoing Drought
Mark Udall welcomed news today from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack that the federal government will provide additional relief through existing USDA conservation programs for farmers and ranchers facing drought.
"Today's move by Secretary Vilsack will provide additional resources and flexibility for Colorado farmers and ranchers who are struggling due to this year's extraordinary drought conditions," Udall said. "Our farmers and ranchers are facing losses of crops and livestock and it's timely that the Secretary utilizes every available tool to provide agricultural producers with some relief as Colorado and states across the country work to deal with the impacts of extreme drought."
The Agriculture Department will use the agency's existing authority to help create and encourage flexibility within four USDA programs: the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP), and the Federal Crop Insurance Program. The Secretary also encouraged companies that provide federally backed crop insurance to provide greater flexibility for farmers affected by drought conditions. The added flexibility would allow farmers to have a short grace period on unpaid insurance premiums and still have crop insurance coverage in cases of drought.
Secretary Vilsack's announcement follows a letter Udall sent last month, along with Senator Michael Bennet, urging the Secretary to use all available resources within his authority to assist farmers and ranchers who are currently facing drought conditions in Colorado.
Read the full text below:
Dear Secretary Vilsack:
I write to urge you to use all available resources at your disposal to assist farmers and ranchers that are currently facing drought conditions in Colorado.
As you may know, Colorado agricultural producers throughout the state have been experiencing drought conditions for the past several months. As producers continue to operate under what the U.S. Drought Monitor has found to be extreme drought conditions in much of the state, it is critical that we deploy the resources necessary that might minimize the damages from this looming threat.
Recently the Colorado Farm Bureau outlined in a letter to the Governor of Colorado that farmers "are facing massive crop failure, with many ranchers already beginning the task of having to feed hay to livestock." Many share the concerns expressed by the Farm Bureau; and though I understand that much of your authority to act may rest on a request from the State of Colorado,
I find it imperative to convey the immediate threat that drought conditions have created for Colorado's farmers and ranchers.
I urge you to employ all the resources at your disposal within the bounds of all relevant laws and regulations to address this growing threat to Colorado's agricultural community and economy.
Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet