Following the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announcement today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) applauded USDA Sec. Vilsack's decision to purchase meat from livestock producers impacted by drought for federal nutrition assistance programs and food banks. With more than 98 percent of Ohio experiencing severe or moderate drought conditions, Brown also renewed his call for the U.S. House of Representatives to schedule a vote on the Senate-passed bipartisan, five-year farm bill--which is set to expire on Sep. 30--that provides critical assistance to farmers affected by drought. Earlier this month, Brown visited with farmers at the Ohio State Fair to discuss how the Senate-passed farm bill contains critical risk management and disaster response provisions for Ohio's farmers and agricultural producers.
"USDA's announcement will provide some relief to farmers and livestock producers dealing with this year's record drought while ensuring that Ohio's families and children have the nutrition they need to stay healthy," Brown said. "Although USDA's purchase will help some producers get back on their feet, passing the Senate farm bill reauthorizes critical disaster programs which expired last year and makes much-needed reforms by building on crop insurance and creating a safety net to assist farmers when prices drop or when natural disaster strikes."
USDA announced plans to purchase up to $170 million of pork, catfish, chicken, and lamb products for federal food nutrition assistance programs to assist farmers who have been affected by natural disasters. The Emergency Surplus Removal Program allows USDA to use funds to purchase meat and poultry products to support the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, the Summer Food Service Program, the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, and the Emergency Food Assistance Program.
Passed in June, the Senate farm bill--a five year bill that saves $23 billion--includes provisions that would help all producers better mitigate risk and make it through tough times--like the extreme heat and drought affecting Ohio and the nation in 2012. Instead of passing the Senate's bipartisan farm bill, the U.S. House of Representatives is opting for a disaster package that fails to provide producers with the long-term certainty and the smarter, more efficient safety net they deserve. In addition to the new safety net program -- Ag Risk Coverage (ARC), the Senate farm bill:
Strengthens, streamlines, and reinstates Livestock Disaster Programs for 2012 and makes them permanent
Reauthorizes the Tree Assistance Program
Provides new crop insurance options for fruit and vegetable growers
Strengthens conservation efforts to protect farmland and prevent another Dust Bowl
Improves crop insurance by adjusting average production history (APH) by increasing the county transition yield from 60 to 70 percent in the event of a disaster; and
Provides lowered crop insurance premiums for beginning farmers and ranchers whose bottom lines are usually tight.
Brown, who serves as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Jobs, Rural Economic Growth and Energy Innovation, is the first Ohioan on the Senate Agriculture Committee in more than 40 years.