A $1.5 billion bipartisan disaster package has been added to the American Workers, State, and Business Relief Act which could be voted on in the Senate yet this week. The addition is based on legislation introduced earlier by Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., and Senator Thad Cochran, R-Miss. The package, if passed, will provide assistance for farmers affected by heavy rains, floods and other weather-related disasters.
The legislation would provide an estimated $1.1 billion in supplemental payments to producers who suffered crop losses in counties declared "primary" disaster areas by USDA. The payments would bridge the gap until 2009 Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program payments are issued next fall.
Also included is $150 million to assist specialty crop producers, $75 million in emergency loans to poultry producers, $50 million in assistance for livestock producers, $25 million in aquaculture assistance and $42 million to aid first handlers of cottonseed.