July 24, 2014

Nelson criticizes House for leaving DC without passing Farm Bill (AUDIO)

Sen. Ben Nelson listens to a presentation at the National Drought Mitigation Center at UNL East Campus

U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson complains that the United States House left for its August break without approving a Farm Bill, which would have provided disaster assistance for Nebraska farmers suffering from the drought.

Nelson says the House needs to approve a version of the Farm Bill, so Senate-House negotiators could work on a compromise.

The Obama Administration has announced moves to provide some agricultural assistance.

“The best thing is that it doesn’t require Congressional approval,” Nelson tells reporters in Lincoln. “I’m glad about that.”

The USDA has announced it will release $16 million to help crop farmers and livestock producers in 19 states who have suffered losses due to drought. Another $14 million will be shifted to the Emergency Conservation Program to help move water to livestock, provide emergency forage and rehabilitate land severely impacted by the drought.

Nelson says it doesn’t make up for the loss of disaster assistance contained in the Farm Bill.

“No. It’s a Band-Aid on a big gash,” Nelson responds.

The USDA has taken steps to allow farmers to apply the current year’s crop indemnity payments toward their crop insurance premiums for next year. USDA officials previously announced an expedited disaster designation process. The Obama Administration lowered the USDA Emergency Loan Rate from 3.75% to 2.25%. CRP land has been authorized for haying and grazing.

Additionally, 1,000 Credit Unions have been authorized to provide unlimited lending to small business owners, including farmers. The USDA, the Small Business Administration and the Department of Commerce will hold events to explain what federal assistance is available. The Department of Transportation will relax over-the-road regulations for truckers providing assistance to farmers and ranchers.

AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:40]