"As unfortunate as it is, drought has become a fifth season for tens of thousands of farmers and ranchers across the country. Each year, severe drought conditions threaten to take the life out of family farms and ranches, in turn delivering a major blow to rural state economies," Thune said.
"As it stands, however, while drought is something we've come to expect every year, the relief necessary to recover from it is not as certain. The legislation I've cosponsored today would correct that discrepancy and authorize a permanent agriculture disaster program, so relief from what has become an annual disaster is not an annual gamble for America's farmers and ranchers.
"I will continue to pursue any opportunity to deliver ag disaster assistance to farmers and ranchers still in recovery from 2006 and previous drought years."
Summary of the Permanent Emergency Agricultural Assistance Act:
- Authorizes a permanent agriculture disaster program for the 2007 crop year and future crop years.
- Covers agricultural producers in federally declared disaster counties and contiguous counties.
Crop and quality losses:
- Producers who lost more than 35 percent of their crop due to weather conditions are eligible for a payment of 65 percent of the crop price.
- For quality losses, producers with losses of at least 35 percent of their crop's value are eligible for a payment of 65 percent of the crop's value times 65 percent of production.
Crop insurance requirement:
- To receive assistance, producers must have purchased crop insurance or, in the case of a noninsurable commodity, must be participating in the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program.
- The crop insurance requirement may be waived for producers who agree to purchase crop insurance at a minimum level of 60 percent for the next two years or, for noninsurable commodities, participate in the NAP for the next two years.
Livestock Assistance Program:
- Ranchers in designated disaster counties and contiguous counties are eligible for assistance for grazing losses sustained due to natural disasters.
Livestock Indemnity Program:
- Ranchers who sustained cattle losses due to hurricanes, floods, wildfires, extreme heat or other weather conditions as determined by the secretary, are eligible for assistance to compensate them for lost livestock.
- Ranchers may participate in either the Livestock Assistance Program or the Livestock Indemnity Program, but not both.