Long Awaited Federal Disaster Aid & 2019 NC Farm Act

Long Awaited Federal Disaster Aid & 2019 NC Farm Act

$19.1 Billion Approved for Federal Disaster Aid

President Trump signed the $19.1 billion federal disaster bill after the House of Representatives was finally able to pass it through (354-58) this week. The bill failed three times in the past several weeks while the House was not in session (the House majority was looking for a unanimous vote).

The approval of the disaster aid comes six months after Congress first began working on an aid-relief bill that was focused on giving assistance to those affected by weather events in 2018 (mainly the Southeast from Hurricanes). But as time passed by, the number of natural disasters began to accumulate. From our friends in the Midwest who are experiencing mass flooding and detrimental tornadoes, the wildfires out in the west and of course, our neighbors in the south who weathered the hurricanes with us, the need for the assistance mounted across the country.

The Senate had already passed the bill several weeks prior to the House and with full congressional approval, President Trump was able to sign the bill into law. Out of the $19.1 billion, $3 billion will be dedicated to crop and livestock losses from hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, wildfires, snowstorms and other natural disasters. Another $558 million would be available to farmers through conservation programs to rehabilitate damaged farmlands, $480 million will go towards forest restoration efforts, $435 million will be slated for watershed and flood prevention operations and $150 million will be used for rural community facilities programs (provide healthcare education, public safety, and public services to rural communities).

NC Senate Ag Committee Approves 2019 NC Farm Act

The Senate Ag committee approved the 2019 Farm Act this week with only 2 notable amendments to the bill, both proposed by Senator Jackson. The first was concerning the soil and water section. The amendment was to clarify that certain information about farmers used by Soil and Water is confidential. The second was in the agritourism section. The amendment added equestrian activities to the list (hunting, fishing, and shooting sports were the original) and set guidelines for the structure of shooting ranges.

Senator Peterson made a motion to amend the bill to conduct a study by the NC Department of Ag on waste management in the poultry industry. His reasoning was that “the poultry industry is self-regulated where the swine industry is heavily regulated in this state.” Sen. Jackson quickly replied asking his fellow committee members not to support this amendment, that the industry is regulated, and that the Senate had made a goal at the beginning of the year not to conduct/fund unnecessary study bills. The amendment failed, but it is important to note that another livestock industry is beginning to be looked at through a microscope.

Now the bill is off to the Senate Finance Committee, then it will head to the Senate Judiciary and Rule committees before heading to the floor for a vote. After that, it will go to the House to start the whole process over again. If you would like to see a full summary of the 2019 Farm Act you can find it through the link here.

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