Senate Passes $19.1 Billion Disaster Aid Bill

Following an agreement reached between Congress and President Donald Trump to remove border wall funding from the long-stalled disaster bill, the Senate passed the legislation on Thursday, providing more than $4 billion for farmers and ranchers devastated by Mother Nature over the past few years.

The bill includes $3.005 billion in farm disaster assistance administered through the Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program (WHIP). The funds will help producers recoup expenses incurred by losses of trees, bushes, vines, milk and harvested adulterated wine grapes caused by natural disasters in 2018 and 2019. It also includes agricultural losses of peach and blueberry crops in 2017 due to extreme cold and producers impacted by Tropical Storm Cindy.

The bill includes $480 million for non-industrial timber restoration, $435 million for rural watershed recovery and $558 million for farmers and ranchers to rehabilitate damaged farmland through the emergency conservation program. Additionally, the bill allocates $150 million for the Rural Development Community Facilities Grant Program, which funds the repair of essential community facilities in rural areas. Despite the long, partisan battle, Puerto Ricans will receive $600 million for nutrition assistance programs.