Industry Responds to House Passage of Disaster-Aid Bill

Dan Economy, Industry News Release


Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2019

This bill provides fiscal year 2019 supplemental appropriations to several federal departments and agencies for expenses related to the consequences of recent wildfires, hurricanes, volcanos, earthquakes, typhoons and other natural disasters.

The funding provided by this bill is designated as emergency spending, which is exempt from discretionary spending limits and other budget enforcement rules.

The bill includes appropriations for the following:

  • Department of Agriculture
  • Department of Commerce
  • Department of Justice
  • Department of Defense
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • Department of the Interior
  • Department of Energy
  • U.S. Coast Guard
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • Forest Service
  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • Department of Labor
  • Department of Education
  • Government Accountability Office
  • Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Department of Transportation
  • Department of Housing and Urban Development

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nicole “Nikki” Fried

Congress finalized and passed a disaster-aid package to help states devastated by hurricanes, wildfires and floods. The action comes 236 days after Florida’s Panhandle was ravaged by Hurricane Michael and after the start of the 2019 hurricane season. Commissioner Nicole “Nikki” Fried offered the following statement:

“As hurricane season starts and an unprecedented wildfire threat looms in the Florida Panhandle, this disaster recovery is long-overdue — but, better late than never. I’m thankful that the Panhandle communities will finally be on the path to recovery. The well-being of communities who lost everything in disasters like Hurricane Michael should have never been held up in partisan battles. I appreciate the Florida Congressional Delegation’s efforts to get this done, and look forward to working with Secretary Purdue to ensure all of Florida’s agriculture stakeholders get the help they need to replant, recover and get back on their feet.”

Today’s action follows Commissioner Fried’s three visits to Congress to advocate for Hurricane Michael recovery aid. Hurricane Michael is the third-strongest storm to ever strike North America. The 161-mph hurricane devastated 3 million acres of Florida forests and left behind 72 million tons of downed trees, causing a $1.3 billion blow to Florida agriculture and creating a wildfire threat 10 times higher than normal.

Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary W. Black

Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary W. Black issued the following statement on the passage of the disaster-relief bill.

“We are relieved to finally say a bipartisan disaster-relief package is on its way to President Trump’s desk, and our Georgia farmers will finally get much needed aid from historic devastation. We look forward to working with USDA to determine implementation of the funds allotted to Georgia farmers.”


Georgia Cotton Commission

The Georgia Cotton Commission would like to thank its partners in Congress for the recent passage of disaster assistance and President Trump for his announcement of a revamped trade assistance package for farmers affected by adverse market conditions caused by ongoing trade negotiations between the United States and various foreign nations. A big thank you goes out to the members of Georgia’s congressional delegation for keeping this issue at the forefront of political discussions despite the length of time it took for their colleagues to act on it.

“These funds do not just help farmers devastated by Hurricane Michael, but also our rural communities that depend on agriculture for their economic sustainability,” said Bart Davis, a cotton farmer from Colquitt County. “Furthermore, this legislation goes to farmers and rural communities in states all over the country affected by recent natural disasters,” he added.

While disaster legislation still requires presidential signature, the commission is hopeful that President Trump will sign this act and hopes USDA will enact this program quickly so that struggling producers can pay off bridge loans and other financing that may be needed to close out the 2018 crop year. Details have not been fully released on either of these programs.

Alabama Farmers Federation

Alabama’s largest farm organization applauded final passage of a $19.1 billion disaster package by the U.S. House of Representatives on Monday. The measure now goes to President Donald Trump, who has agreed to sign it.

“Alabama farmers were hit hard by hurricanes, and families also have been devastated by tornadoes,” said Alabama Farmers Federation President Jimmy Parnell. “Passage of disaster relief is long overdue. We thank Sen. Richard Shelby, Rep. Martha Roby and other members of Alabama’s congressional delegation for keeping these concerns at the forefront, and President Trump for agreeing to sign this legislation.”

Following months of debate over disaster funding for Puerto Rico and the humanitarian crisis at the U.S. southern border, the House overwhelmingly approved the aid package by a 354-58 vote. 

The disaster-relief bill provides aid for states affected by disasters in 2018 and 2019, as well as ongoing relief for disasters that occurred in 2017 including: agriculture disaster relief for farmers; development grants for small, rural communities; assistance for veterans’ health facilities and military construction projects; emergency funds for timber, watershed and wastewater infrastructure needs; and resources to restore highways, aviation facilities and other transit projects.

Shelby, who serves as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced an agreement with Congressional leaders and the Trump Administration May 23, just hours before the Senate voted 85-8 in favor of the package. Following House passage, he expressed disappointment in the time required to pass disaster relief.

“A lot of people were waiting too long,” Shelby said. “I think we could do better. I don’t think it was our best show.”

Roby, whose 2nd Congressional District was battered by Hurricane Michael, has been an outspoken advocate for disaster assistance. 

“For eight long months, farmers in the Wiregrass and throughout the Southeast have waited for disaster relief aid after Hurricane Michael devastated the region last October,” she said. “I am very proud that Congress has at last delivered this long-overdue assistance, and I am eager to see President Trump sign this bill into law to finally help the many Americans who have suffered extreme devastation in the wake of natural disasters across the country.”

Georgia Peanut Commission

Georgia peanut farmers applaud the U.S. House of Representatives passage of the long-awaited disaster aid bill by 354-58. The passage comes eight months after Hurricane Michael devastated portions of Georgia, Alabama and Florida. The passage has come at a critical time as farmers are in the midst of planting their 2019 crops.

Previously, the disaster aid bill passed the Senate by a vote of 85-8 on May 23. This package contains $19.1 billion of disaster relief, including $605 million for Puerto Rico’s Nutrition Assistance Program, $300 million for additional Community Development Block Grants for Puerto Rico, $3.2 billion to rebuild military bases like Tyndall Air Force Base and Camp Lejeune, $3.3 billion for flood damage repair, and $3 billion for agricultural losses. Additionally, California will be eligible to receive more than $8 billion in assistance for wildfire recovery.

“We are thankful for the work of Georgia’s Congressional delegation in staying strong and never giving up on passage of the disaster aid bill,” says Armond Morris, chairman of the Georgia Peanut Commission. “The work of Senators David Perdue and Johnny Isakson, as well as Congressmen Sanford Bishop and Austin Scott, have been tremendous in helping farmers obtain the disaster relief that is greatly needed.”

The bill now heads to President Trump for final approval. Once signed, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will work to implement. A summary of the disaster relief package is available on the Georgia Peanut Commission website at