U.S. Congressmen Brian Mast (FL-18) and Jimmy Panetta (CA-20) today introduced the bipartisan Kittens in Traumatic Testing Ends Now Act of 2019, or KITTEN Act. [Read more…] about Mast, Panetta Introduce Legislation to End Deadly USDA Experiments on Kittens
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services announced today that it is working closely with the U.S. Department of Agriculture regarding an atypical case of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), a neurologic disease of cattle, in a six-year-old, mixed-breed beef cow in Florida. This animal never entered slaughter channels and at no time presented a risk to the food supply, or to human health in the United States. This form of BSE is not contagious. [Read more…] about USDA Confirms Atypical Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy
The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture announced today that it will provide more than $2.3 billion in disaster assistance to help Florida farmers and citrus growers recover from last year’s hurricanes.
The announcement comes just days after U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson (D-FL), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and others sent a letter to Sec. Sonny Perdue urging him to provide the much-needed assistance to Florida’s farmers. Congress approved the funding as part of the disaster supplemental bill it passed in February.
“Florida’s farmers and citrus growers are a vital part of our state’s economy and we need to make sure we’re doing everything we can to help them recover from last year’s storms,” Nelson said today following the announcement.
A copy of the letter Nelson and Rubio sent to Perdue is here.
And here’s a copy of USDA’s announcement:
USDA Implements up to $2.36 Billion to Help Agricultural
Producers Recover after 2017 Hurricanes and Wildfires
2017 Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program’ to Aid Recovery in Rural Communities
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will make disaster payments of up to $2.36 billion, as provided by Congress, to help America’s farmers and ranchers recover from hurricanes and wildfires. The funds are available as part of the new 2017 Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program (2017 WHIP). Sign-up for the new program, authorized by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, will begin no later than July 16.
USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will make these disaster payments to agricultural producers to offset losses from hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria and devastating wildfires. The 2017 calendar year was a historic year for natural disasters, and this investment is part of a broader suite of programs that USDA is delivering to rural America to aid recovery. In total, the Act provided more than $3 billion in disaster relief by creating new programs, and expediting or enhancing payments for producers.
“America’s farmers feed our nation and much of the world, and throughout history they have known good years and bad years. But when significant disasters strike, we are ready to step in and provide the assistance they need,” Secretary Perdue said. “USDA is working as quickly as possible to develop procedures and a system by which affected producers can access disaster assistance. For producers new to FSA programs, we encourage you to visit your local USDA service center now to establish farm records.”
About 2017 WHIP Disaster Payments
The new 2017 WHIP will provide significant disaster assistance and be guided by the following principles:
- Eligibility will be limited to producers in counties that experienced hurricanes or wildfires designated as presidentially-declared disasters in 2017;
- Compensation determined by a producer’s individual losses rather than an average of losses for a particular area (where data is available);
- Producers who purchased higher levels of risk protection, such as crop insurance and noninsured crop disaster assistance program, will receive higher payments;
- Advance payments up to 50 percent; and
- A requirement that payment recipients obtain future risk protection.
Other USDA Disaster Assistance
WHIP disaster payments are being issued in addition to payments through our traditional programs, some of which obtained increased funding or had amendments made by the Act to make the programs more responsive, including the Emergency Conservation Program, Emergency Watershed Protection Program, Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-raised Fish Program, Tree Assistance Program and Livestock Indemnity Program.
During 2017, the U.S. experienced a historic year of weather-related disasters, with an economic impact totaling more than $300 billion. In total, the United States was impacted by 16 separate billion-dollar disaster events including: three tropical cyclones, eight severe storms, two inland floods, a crop freeze, drought and wildfire. More than 25 million people – almost eight percent of the population – were affected by major disasters.
FSA will distribute more information on how producers can file claims for WHIP disaster payments at a later date. For questions on how to establish farm records to be prepared when WHIP disaster signup begins, or to learn about other disaster assistance programs, producers are asked to contact their local USDA service center.
Following U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue’s announcement today that the USDA will begin implementing disaster payments of up to $2.36 billion in response to 2017 hurricanes and wildfires, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam issued the following statement:
“Florida agriculture took a direct hit from Hurricane Irma and has long-awaited this much-needed disaster relief. I thank Secretary Perdue for moving forward with the process to make disaster payments. We look forward to continuing to work with the USDA to ensure that this program is implemented quickly and in the best way possible to help Florida’s producers recover from the devastating hurricane.”
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson today sent the following letter to Dept. of Agriculture Secretary Perdue requesting additional assistance and resources from the USDA to address the long lines and other problems associated with the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP) registration process in Florida.
Following is the text of the letter sent to Secretary Perdue, a pdf copy is available here.
October 17, 2017
The Honorable Sonny Perdue
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Ave SW
Washington, DC 20250
Dear Secretary Perdue,
I’m writing to request additional assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as families in Florida try to recover in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. Specifically, I urge you to provide resources to address the long lines and other problems associated with the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program registration process.
Last month, I wrote to you to urge USDA to approve a Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP) in Florida. While I am grateful that D-SNAP was approved, I am deeply concerned by news reports of how poorly it is being executed by the State of Florida. For example, the Miami Herald reported that 50,000 people came to one assistance center in South Florida—and many were turned away even after waiting in the heat for hours. Earlier today, the Palm Beach Post reported that thousands of people—including families with small children—were forced to wait outside for hours to apply for the program in Delray Beach. Some arrived as early as two o’clock in the morning just to get in line. This is unacceptable.
Given USDA’s experience with D-SNAP in other states, I encourage you to provide technical assistance, personnel, and other resources that could help Florida’s D-SNAP more effectively reach the individuals and families who need it most. Additionally, if certain requirements, such as the in-person interview, are adding to delays in the approval process, USDA should assist staff at the application centers to expedite interviews so that people can return to work and their families more quickly.
In the weeks since Hurricane Irma struck, Floridians continue to take steps to return to normal life. For a lot of folks, that means going to the grocery store. But for thousands of Floridians who lost food due to flooding or power outages, replacing that food isn’t easy: many also lost wages, spent money evacuating, or experienced unexpected costs like fixing a storm-damaged roof. D-SNAP is an important step in the recovery process after a major natural disaster like Hurricane Irma. I appreciate your efforts to ensure that Floridians can access this much-needed assistance as quickly as possible.
TALLAHASSEE – The State of Florida, in partnership with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), this week provided $133 million in Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program benefits for current food assistance recipients in areas most severely impacted by Hurricane Irma. On September 15, DCF received a waiver of regulations from the USDA to make the mass benefit replacement possible.
This effort, coordinated by the Department of Children and Families (DCF), helps current food assistance households that lost food destroyed by the storm or due to power outages. The action provides aid to nearly 1.5 million households in 52 counties.
Households received 40 percent of the amount of their regular September benefits amount. Benefits were automatically loaded into each household’s Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) account and households can use the benefits in USDA authorized retailers.
More information about food assistance is available at www.myflorida.com/accessflorida/.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today outlined steps the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has taken to help the people of Florida and other states and U.S. territories ravaged by Hurricane Irma, underscoring the Department’s commitment to feeding all those in need in times of disaster.
“USDA stands shoulder to shoulder with our fellow Americans struggling in the path of devastation created by this historic storm,” Perdue said. “Working with our state and private-sector partners, we are actively taking measures to ensure that people in these areas get the food they need.”
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) recently approved a temporary waiver and supported other actions that will help households participating in the USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in Florida, Georgia and the Virgin Islands and the Nutrition Assistance Program in Puerto Rico access food in the wake of Hurricane Irma, including:
- Allowing SNAP participants in Florida to buy hot foods and hot ready-to-eat foods with their benefits through Sept. 30.
- Supporting Florida’s plan to issue all September SNAP benefits on Sept. 7 and Georgia’s plan to issue all remaining benefits for September on Sept. 10; both actions will ensure families have access to their monthly benefits sooner during this time of immediate crisis.
- Supporting Puerto Rico’s action to issue all September Nutrition Assistance Program benefits on Sept. 5, before the storm.
FNS is working closely with the affected states and territories to be ready, if appropriate, to make use of the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP) to offer continuing food assistance after commercial channels of food distribution have been restored and families are able to prepare food at home. D-SNAP can be a critical tool in the recovery process, but it is not the first step, Perdue said, noting that FNS offers states a range of assistance from rescue to recovery.
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service administers 15 nutrition assistance programs, including the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs, the Child and Adult Care Food Program, the Summer Food Service Program, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which together comprise America’s nutrition safety net. For more information on FNS assistance during times of disaster, visit www.fns.usda.gov.