Disaster assistance bill would provide $3.3 billion in help

U.S. Congressman Frank Lucas has introduced legislation to provide payments to agriculture producers suffering from a series of natural disasters, including the Oklahoma drought, and received word that the bill would provide $3.3 billion in relief to producers.

Lucas called his legislation “our best chance to get relief signed by the President,” and urged his colleagues in the House to cosponsor the bill. A competing proposal in the Senate has been attached to legislation that the president has said he would veto.

Lucas introduced his Natural Disaster Assistance Bill of 2006 on May 4, which will provide payments to those producers dealing with extensive recent natural disasters such as the drought in the Midwest, flooding in California, and hurricane crop and livestock losses in Louisiana and Florida. Producers could apply for payments for losses due to weather conditions in 2005 or 2006.

The Congressional Budget Office provided a score of $3.3 billion in federal assistance that the bill will provide for those producers hardest hit by natural disasters.

“My legislation is a workable solution that can get producers the help they need quickly,” Lucas said. “I’ll be lobbying my colleagues to move this legislation as a stand alone bill or as part of a larger package.”

The bill would make producers eligible for payments to cover half their losses that are beyond a loss of 35 percent of normal yields. Payments would also be eligible for fruit, nut, sugarcane, sugar beet, and cottonseed producers who suffered losses in Florida, Texas and Louisiana, from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The bill provides payments for livestock and poultry losses in qualifying disaster counties. It also pays 30 percent of the market value of animals lost to hurricanes, floods, anthrax or wildfires.

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