MO Congressman wants different disaster relief approach

A U.S. Congressman from Missouri has introduced a bill to bring back the Wildfire, Hurricane, Indemnity Plus disaster relief program.

The WHIP+ program was used for ad-hoc disaster relief until 2020, when USDA started using the Emergency Relief Program. Mark Alford says it’s still taking too long for farmers to get disaster relief payments.

“We want more efficient, timely payments and a better executed program.”

Ag lobbyist Tom Sell tells Brownfield it can take months or years after a severe weather disaster to get a payment from USDA, but payment delays were an issue before ERP was created. He says speeding up that process isn’t an easy fix and it’s gotten worse with the second phase of ERP.

“I think there’s a big sentiment in Congress to roll with ERP phase one for future disaster relief, because of the simple payment formula was easy to process.”

But Alford says the Trump administration’s disaster program was better and “just because something is difficult, doesn’t mean it’s impossible and we shouldn’t try.”

Alford says after two consecutive years of drought, Missouri producers are concerned about next year. He says making $8.5 billion available through the WHIP+ Reauthorization Act is one solution and tells Brownfield a more permanent disaster relief program in the farm bill is another option.

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