WASHINGTON – On Wednesday, the U.S. House Agriculture Committee held a markup on the Democrats’ proposed $16.112 billion ag reconciliation bill.
In an effort to improve the bill, U.S. Rep. Randy Feenstra, R-Iowa, introduced amendments that were considered during Wednesday’s hearing, including one to authorize the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP+) to include those in need of assistance from last summer’s massive derecho storm. The derecho exacerbated the challenges Iowa farmers face due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The U.S House Agriculture Committee adopted Rep. Feenstra’s amendment.
“I promised to deliver results and fight for Iowa farmers, main street businesses, and hard working families, and that’s exactly what I’m doing,” Feenstra said. “My amendment will provide much-needed and timely relief for hardworking farmers affected by last summer’s derecho. I’m proud the House Agriculture Committee passed my amendment, and I look forward to working with my colleagues on this committee moving forward to deliver more results for our agriculture community.”
Feenstra’s amendment would add a provision to make assistance available to producers who suffered disaster losses in 2020, including losses due to high winds and the derecho that devastated a large swath of Iowa. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimated damages from the derecho to be $7.5 billion, which is a larger cost than nine of last year’s 10 hurricanes and tropical storms that made landfall. The provision would provide payments to producers who suffered damages as a result of the derecho through the USDA’s Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program (WHIP). Despite arguments made by the majority, this amendment would not impact the overall budgetary impacts of this legislation; it would simply redirect some of the $4 billion in funding allocated in the relevant section towards this needed purpose.
U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Iowa, applauded the passage of the amendment.
“Iowa’s First District is still reeling from the Derecho, which hit us amid the struggles of COVID-19 pandemic. Despite these challenges, Iowa farmers and essential workers persevered and kept our food and energy supply chain operating. This bipartisan amendment would ensure they get the targeted relief they desperately need and deserve. Thank you to Representative Feenstra for leading this effort and to Representative Axne for reaching across the aisle on an issue that is critical to Iowans,” she said.