Recent passage of a Congressional act may bring relief to farmers who experienced crop losses due to drought in 2018 and 2019. In December 2019, Congress passed the FY2020 Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, making crop production losses due to “quality losses of crops, drought and excessive soil moisture” in crop years 2018 and 2019 eligible for Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP+).
The hope is meaningful assistance will become available to the 202 Texas counties affected, however until the United States Department of Agriculture, USDA, releases further information, farmers must wait to sign up for assistance.
Assistance that covers crop loss due to drought
“Previous rounds of assistance had focused on a variety of other disasters but didn’t cover drought,” said Bart Fischer, director of the Agricultural Food and Policy Center, or AFPC, at Texas A&M University. “But the FY2020 appropriations bill finally addressed that aspect of crop loss, making drought losses eligible for WHIP+.”
Support for D3-D4 level drought severity only
Fischer noted the FY2020 Further Consolidated Appropriations Act further stipulates “losses due to drought shall only be eligible for WHIP+ if any area within the county in which the loss occurs was rated by the U.S. Drought Monitor as having a D3 (Extreme Drought) or higher level of drought intensity during the applicable calendar years.”
Still awaiting implementation, but hope for a big impact on Texas farmers
Fischer said Texas Reps. Mike Conaway, ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee, and Kay Granger, ranking member of the Appropriations Committee, championed getting farmers drought relief through Congress.
“This could be a big deal for a number of Texas farmers who had crop losses due to drought in 2018 and/or 2019,” he said. “However, the amount of support a producer receives will ultimately depend on how the USDA implements the bill.”
Learn more about Managing for Drought on Texas Rangelands.
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