Casey: USDA Delay Hurting Farmers Suffering Losses from Flooding

Technical Rule Holding Up Disaster Payments to Farmers

Casey Requests Same Rule Revision Given to Mississippi in Wake of Storms

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) is calling on the United States Department Agriculture (USDA) to revise claim procedures so that Pennsylvania’s farmers would be compensated for their crop losses in the wake of flooding caused by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.

In order for farmers to be compensated for crop losses they must demonstrate that their crops have failed, but the damage from Irene and Lee was so bad that many of Pennsylvania’s farmers cannot even harvest their crops, leaving them unable to demonstrate a crop failure and delaying their insurance payments.

In a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, Senator Casey called on the agency to issue the same revisions to claim procedures for Pennsylvania that were issued for Mississippi in the wake of storms and flooding there. The revised procedures would allow Pennsylvania’s farmers to finally be compensated for their crop losses.

“All across Pennsylvania our farmers are still dealing with devastation from Irene and Lee, so making sure they are compensated for their losses is essential to their recovery,” Senator Casey said. “USDA shouldn’t wait to find out what we already know -- Pennsylvania’s farmers were ravaged by Irene and Lee, and it’s time they receive the compensation they deserve.”

Pennsylvania suffered historic flooding in the wake of Irene and Lee, leaving families and businesses devastated. The storms also took an incredible toll on Pennsylvania’s farmers, leaving their crops and land barren after an already difficult season.

Senator Casey’s letter to Secretary Vilsack is below:

Dear Mr. Secretary:

As you know, much of Pennsylvania this year suffered from disasters and agricultural losses due to drought, flood and hail.  The Commonwealth’s producers experienced damages ranging from minor losses to total destruction.  I appreciate the assistance that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has provided to Pennsylvanian producers who experienced crop damage, as I understand the process has gone fairly smoothly with the losses that were incurred.

However, I am advised that an issue still exists with crops that were flooded because many producers who experienced crop flooding are yet unable to harvest because their fields remain under water.  It is my understanding that the Risk Management Agency (RMA) has informed producers that they will have unpaid claims until the crops are actually destroyed.  Nevertheless, I understand that affected producers are unable to get into their fields to harvest the crops and destroy them, thus they are not being paid their claims for crop losses.

I request that you provide emergency loss adjustment procedures to Pennsylvanian farmers. RMA recently gave such flexibility to producers in Mississippi, due to the 2011 flooding, through Bulletin No: MGR-11-012.  This action would allow loss payments to be expedited.

I appreciate your attention to this request.  I look forward to continue working with you in the future, especially as we move forward with reauthorization of the Farm Bill in 2012.  Thank you for your assistance.

Sincerely,

Robert P. Casey, Jr.

United States Senator

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