Louisiana Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Bob Odom introduced a unanimously-passed resolution at the Southern Association of State Departments of Agriculture (SASDA) urging USDA to make Section 32 funds available immediately following a natural disaster.
“If we had funds earmarked in Section 32 that could be dispersed immediately following a disaster then some of our farmers could actually stay in business,” Odom said. “Our farmers are just starting to get federal disaster assistance money almost 10 months after the storms. It’s too late for some of our ag producers.
“The creation and writing and all the red tape associated with the rules and regulations to disperse funds is crazy. We’ve had disaster after disaster and the process never speeds up. The funds can be dispersed via Section 32 without rules and regs, yet the administration has taken this long to get funds in the hands of farmers.”
Odom said he is disgusted with the bureaucracy involved in getting assistance to farmers because Louisiana producers began planting three months ago and didn’t know when they would receive any help.
“Some had to make the tough decision not to return to the fields and that hurts us all. We need our food and fiber produced domestically in order for us to remain a world power. We do not need to depend on foreign countries to feed us and that is what is going to happen if farmers don’t receive prompt assistance following a disaster,” Odom said.
Section 32 funds were established in 1935 to aid farmers following the Great Depression. Historically, the funds have been used to help farmers move their commodities through markets and to reestablish farmers’ purchasing power. How those goals are accomplished is up to the USDA Secretary. In recent years the Secretary has used portions of Section 32 funds in the wake of natural disasters. For example, in 2005 more than $400 million was distributed in direct payments to Florida producers following a series of hurricanes.
Source: Louisiana Agriculture and Forestry Department
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