(Washington, D.C., March 3, 2023) – U.S. Senator Roger Marshall, M.D. and U.S Representative Jodey Arrington are leading a bicameral group of elected officials in urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to build on the successes on Phase I of its Emergency Relief Program (ERP) rollout. In a new letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, the group expressed their concerns about new bureaucratic requirements laid out in the Phase II ERP plans and stressed the negative impact Phase II could have on producers’ abilities to recover from a disaster.
“Sitting on the tongue of the wagon is important before you roll out any program and unfortunately USDA didn’t do that on the roll out of ERP Phase Two,” said Senator Marshall. “Our farmers back home are frustrated at the unprecedented way USDA is addressing disaster losses, especially when the ag community expected Phase Two to follow in the path of ERP Phase One. USDA needs to reverse course and build off the successful methodology of Phase 1.”
“From supply chain disruptions to surging input costs and historic drought conditions, our producers faced unprecedented challenges over the past few years,” said Rep. Arrington. “It’s crucial that the USDA administer disaster relief as Congress intended. More importantly, as Congress looks ahead to this year’s Farm Bill, we must empower our nation’s producers, strengthen our food supply, and demonstrate fiscal responsibility by avoiding costly ad hoc disaster assistance and ensuring farm program integrity.”
The Senators and Representatives wrote in part,
“…While encouraged by the streamlined and effective approach of your Phase I roll-out, we are deeply concerned with the fundamental changes made in Phase II…Phase II presents a stark reversal from the gains made in Phase I. It is extremely complicated, requiring new forms and the sharing of personal tax records – information that does not necessarily correlate to crop losses by crop year making Phase II less precise…Ultimately, the approach of disaster aid through a complicated whole farm crop revenue analysis is a step backward…We respectfully ask the USDA to follow its original commitment and address the crop losses of our farmers and ranchers who are essential to America’s food security…”
Along with Senator Marshall and Representative Arrington, the letter was signed by U.S. Senators John Cornyn and Mike Braun, and U.S. Representatives Tracey Mann and August Pfluger.