H.R. 6233: Agricultural Disaster Assistance Act of 2012

H.R. 6233

Agricultural Disaster Assistance Act of 2012

Sponsor
Sen. Bernard Sanders

Date
August 2, 2012 (112th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

On Thursday, August 2, 2012, the House is scheduled to consider H.R. 6233, the Agricultural Disaster Assistance Act of 2012, under a rule. H.R. 6233 was introduced on July 31, 2012, by Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK) and referred to the House Committee on Agriculture.

Bill Summary

H.R. 6233 would provide supplemental funding for agriculture disaster aid by retroactively reauthorizing expired disaster assistance programs for fiscal year 2012. The cost of the disaster assistance ($383 million) would be more than offset with reductions in spending for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) conservation programs ($639 million in savings). The net effect of the spending and offsets would reduce spending over ten years by $256 million.

 

Supplemental Agricultural Disaster Assistance:

 

The legislation would reauthorize expired emergency disaster programs for livestock ranchers, as well as fish, tree, honey bee and nursery plant producers for fiscal year 2012. The aid would be available for losses incurred from October 1, 2011, through 2012, as a result of disaster, adverse weather or other environmental conditions. Specifically, the bill would provide emergency disaster relief through the following programs:

  • The Livestock Indemnity Program would provide $87 million disaster relief funding over ten years. The bill would authorize the USDA to use such sums as are necessary from the Commodity Credit Corporation to make livestock indemnity payments to eligible producers on farms that have incurred livestock death losses in excess of normal mortality due to attacks by animals reintroduced into the wild by the federal government or by adverse weather.
  • The Livestock Forage Program would provide $262 million in disaster relief funding over ten years. Under H.R. 6233, the USDA would use funds from the Commodity Credit Corporation to compensate livestock owners for losses due to grazing losses resulting from drought or fire.
  • The Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Bees, Fish would provide $20 million in disaster relief funding over ten years. The USDA would be required to use funds from the Commodity Credit Corporation to provide emergency relief to producers to aid in the reduction of losses due to disease, adverse weather, or other conditions.
  • The Tree Assistance Program would provide $16 million in disaster relief funding over ten years. The USDA would provide assistance to eligible orchardists and nursery tree growers who lost trees as a result of a natural disaster.

 

Offsets:

 

In order to offset the costs of extending disaster relief, the bill would make reductions to direct spending. Specifically, the bill would reduce funding for USDA’s Conservation Stewardship Program by limiting the number of total acres covered under the program. This would reduce funding for the program by $289 million over ten years. The bill would also reduce funding for the USDA’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program by $350 million over ten years. According to CBO, the bill’s provisions would increase spending for disaster relief by $383 million and reduce spending for conservation programs by $639 million. The net result of the bill would reduce federal spending over the next ten years by $256 million.

 

Background

According to the National Integrated Drought Information System, under a second winter of La Niña, drought conditions emerged midway through the 2012 water year, with low snowpacks melting out early during a very dry and warm spring. Spring and early summer runoff over most of the country was well below average, with flows similar to 2002 and other benchmark drought years. Continued dry and hot conditions in June dried out vegetation and led to very large and intense wildfires in all three states, along with widespread rangeland, pasture, and dryland crop losses.  Today, the Midwest is in the grips of the worst drought in at least a quarter of a century. Nearly two-thirds of the nine-state Midwest region was in some stage of drought in the reporting week that ended July 10, up from just over 50 percent a week earlier, according to the Drought Monitor, a weekly report on drought throughout the country compiled by U.S. climate experts.

Cost

According to CBO, “enacting this legislation would reduce direct spending by $256 million over the 2013-2022 period.”