Committee Approves Bill with Supplemental Assistance Linked to 2020 & 2021 Flooding, Other Natural Disasters

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) today voted with the Senate Appropriations Committee to advance a funding measure that supports agricultural interests in Mississippi, including supplemental disaster assistance for producers adversely affected by natural disasters in 2020 and 2021.

Hyde-Smith, who serves on the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, helped develop the FY2022 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill.  The measure, which funds USDA agriculture, rural development, conservation, food safety, and nutrition assistance programs, was approved, 25-5.

“As an agriculture-focused state, Mississippi has a broad interest in this appropriations bill.  It would support those federal agricultural and conservation programs that help producers be more efficient and successful in feeding and clothing our nation.  The rural development aspects of this bill are also important to ensuring small communities deliver basic services,” Hyde-Smith said.

“This bill also recommends important supplemental disaster assistance for our farmers and ranchers affected by natural disasters in 2020, as well as in 2021.  That is a big deal for Mississippi producers, who’ve been left with few good options after successive years of flooding and other disasters,” she said.

The Senate bill recommends $7.03 billion in supplemental disaster assistance for payments to producers who have suffered losses due to hurricanes, floods, winter storms, and other qualifying natural disasters that occurred in 2020 and 2021.  This funding includes $750 million for livestock producers.

According to damage estimates prepared by American Farm Bureau Federation based on USDA Risk Management Agency data, Hurricanes Zeta, Laura, and other weather events caused more than $52 million in uncovered crop damages in 2020 in Mississippi.  Yazoo Backwater Area flooding in 2020 alone prevented planting on well over 200,000 acres.  For 2021, the Mississippi State University Extension Service estimates adverse weather affected more than 1.4 million acres across 39 Mississippi counties, resulting in more than $839 million in damages.         

Hyde-Smith also noted $8.4 million included within USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations funding specifically to support work to reduce flooding, erosion, and sediment damages in various authorized watersheds within Mississippi.

“The additional NRSC funding for Mississippi would help correct watershed deterioration caused by recent storms and flooding, particularly the unprecedented rainfall and flooding that affected the northern part of the state in early June.  This damage adversely affects agriculture production and conservation efforts in our state,” Hyde-Smith said. 

Among the items of interest to Mississippi in the committee-passed measure:

  • Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) – Increased funding for CWD research and development, in addition to added funding for state CWD monitoring activities.
  • Cattle Contract Library – Funding for the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) to establish a cattle contract library and funding for AMS enforcement of the Packers and Stockyard Act.
  • Warmwater Aquaculture Research – Funding for the U.S. Agricultural Research Services (ARS) at Stoneville to continue warmwater research to advance technologies that improve the efficiency, profitability and sustainability of aquaculture production.
  • Catfish Inspections – Language directing the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service to continue the catfish inspection program and to ensure foreign imports meet the U.S. food safety standards.
  • ARS Extramural Research – Continues funding for ARS research projects involving Mississippi State University, the University of Mississippi, and other state institutions.
  • Institute of Child Nutrition – Increased funding for the Institute of Child Nutrition at the University of Mississippi.

In addition to the Agriculture Appropriations measure, the Appropriations Committee on Wednesday also approved the FY2022 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill and the FY2022 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill.

The Senate FY2022 Agriculture Appropriations Bill text is available here, while the report accompanying the measure is available here.